Articles about Education
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How does the Kumon English programme support children at Key Stage 2?

Sep 2020

There is increased attention on children’s grasp of the foundations of the key subjects of maths and English at Key Stage 2 in England and Wales, as schools and education bodies strive to raise standards nationally. Before they leave primary school in Year 6, pupils sit a SATs test that allows the school to measure the child against school and national levels of attainment. As part of the school curriculum children between the ages of seven to eleven, develop the basis of all their subject knowledge at Key Stage 2. Their performances across maths and English in particular, are measured so that both their progress and the performance of the school can be assessed.

In 2020, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) - an impartial and evidence-based research institute - carried out independent research aiming to investigate the link between studying the Kumon Maths Programme and children’s school performance. The research found that Kumon students are over a year ahead of the national average, and over six months ahead of their peers in their maths learning at the end of primary school

Kumon is proud to be recognised as an education provider that delivers proven academic results. You can read more about the research here. By excelling ahead of their peers by the end of primary school, we believe Kumon students have the confidence, study skills, and academic ability to thrive in their transition to secondary school.

So, how do the Kumon programmes achieve this? 

In English, the SATs focus particularly on reading; experiencing different writing styles, understanding plots and themes, passage structure and finding information in a piece of non-fiction. In their writing, children are required to know how to use paragraphs, punctuation, adverbs, direct and reported speech as well as active and passive voice.

The Kumon English Programme is focused on students developing a high standard of understanding in the fundamentals of the subject. Kumon students’ work is set for them individually and they work independently. This allows them to progress swiftly or possibly to spend a little more time practising a topic if they need to. Once the fundamentals are in place it is far easier and faster for the child to progress for themselves, step-by-step. At Kumon, we aim for students to be working at an advanced level of study often a few years above their equivalent school grade level which is achieved by using their existing knowledge to take on new work by themselves. The Kumon Instructor will set work at this ‘just-right’ level and provide worksheets and instruction that lead the student to read short passages of text that gradually build their ability by using examples and clues and then encouraging them to breakdown what they have read.   

There are some key aspects of the English programme that will specifically benefit a child in Key Stage 2 at school. For example, in the levels A to CII of the Kumon English Programme, the student reads and studies a wide range of texts to develop their skills in visualising the passage and interpreting it correctly. The worksheets break down the sentences and develop the child’s ability to pick out key information and structure. Gradually they move on to studying the actual verbs, verb endings, punctuation and sentence construction. In the next levels, the child develops their paragraph construction and their interpretation of texts.
In the English programme levels A to C, students learn how to visualise a word and then to visualise a whole sentence. They need to think about each word and retain the information within it. They progress to thinking about a whole paragraph and then a whole passage of text.

Identifying the subject of a sentence

This worksheet shows where the student is asked to think about and identify the subject in the sentence for the first time. The worksheet provides a simple description with an example provided. By using this it’s possible to then read the first question and the clues given, and think about the subject of the sentence and its effect on structure for oneself.

Introducing active and passive voice

The student is introduced to the active and passive voice in worksheets CI 82a and CI 82b, a key requirement of Key Stage 2 at school. These worksheets provide a description and examples that show the difference between the passive and active words and exercises to complete that allow the student to try them out for themselves. Through their own resources and curiosity, they can use the worksheets to guide them in their thinking.

Gathering and organising information in the text

Later in the programme, the student is asked to read and organise the information they have gathered from a short passage about famous actors who have won awards. They are not specifically answering a question but breaking down the information they know. The exercise is about organising information, identifying points and facts and carefully laying it out so that the details are not mixed up. The student needs to read the categories carefully. 

Kumon students also learn how to correct their work and learn from their mistakes and, at the end of each level, they sit a short attainment level test. By regularly assessing their work as they progress through the Kumon levels, students are better able to gain a sense of accomplishment from their learning achievements and become familiar with the benefits of regular testing both at Kumon and at school.

You can read more about the English programme here.