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The Kumon Method of Learning was born from one father’s love for his child in 1954. Toru Kumon, a caring father and gifted high school maths teacher, saw that his son Takeshi was not excelling in maths at school. To help him improve he wrote out maths worksheets for his son to complete daily. Toru Kumon believed that educators have a responsibility to foster a mindset of self-learning in children, so he created learning materials for Takeshi that encouraged him to work independently.
Takeshi’s ability improved significantly and following his son’s success, Toru Kumon invited some local children to study in the same way. In turn, all of them greatly improved. It was this, coupled with Toru Kumon’s desire to develop the potential of as many children as possible, that prompted him in 1955 to open the first Kumon maths centre in Osaka, Japan. Kumon expanded to Tokyo in 1962, reaching a combined total of over 10,000 students studying with Kumon by 1969.
Early years of international expansion
In 1974, Toru Kumon published a book entitled The Secret of Kumon Maths which illustrated the aims of the Kumon Method and its effectiveness so far. It was well received, provoking a flood of enquiries. At the same time, Kumon began to expand internationally, opening its first centre outside of Japan in New York, USA. The total number of Kumon subject enrolments in Japan continued to grow, reaching 200,000 by 1977.
Throughout the 1980s, Kumon expanded both in geographical reach and in subject matter. In 1980, Kumon successfully opened its first centre in Europe in Germany, moving into the UK market in 1983. It also developed the Kumon English Programme (for native Japanese speakers) in 1980, as well as the Kumon Japanese Programme (for native Japanese speakers) in 1981. By the late 1980s, there were affiliated Kumon companies and study centres in Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong and Canada. By 1989, the total number of subject enrolments exceeded 1.5 million.
Meaning of the Kumon logo
The Kumon Method of Learning encourages both students and Instructors to think deeply to solve problems and work out answers. The O in our Kumon logo represents the ‘Thinking Face’. This is the expression of students who are engaged; learning, thinking and growing in Kumon study centres across the world. Similarly, it represents the faces of everyone involved in Kumon. From Associates to Instructors, there is a mutual desire to grow and improve, putting education and the development of each child’s potential at the forefront of our thoughts.
The Kumon blue used in our logo represents intelligence, honesty and the sky that stretches across the world. It also represents our hope that the world will be united, the future of our children will grow on a grand scale and that people all over the world will think seriously about education.
Kumon in the UK
The first UK Kumon study centre opened in the United Kingdom in 1983, followed by an affiliated company being established in 1990. By 1991, Kumon Education UK was established with the Kumon English Programme (for native English speakers) arriving in 1997. Kumon is now the largest supplementary education provider in the UK and Ireland with more than 70,000 Kumon students learning at 650 study centres across the UK and Ireland.
Kumon has continued its global expansion, with over 4 million students worldwide studying in 50 countries and regions across the world. View the timeline below for more details.