How does the Kumon maths programme develop school children in Key Stage 2?
With more focus than ever on raising standards in schools, 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. Before they leave primary school in Year 6, pupils sit a SATs test that will allow the school to measure the child against the school and national levels of attainment.
Children develop the basis of all their subject knowledge between the ages of seven to eleven based the school curriculum. 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 maths, the SATs measure a number of skills in children as they leave primary education; have they been able to master maths skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, use of brackets, fractions, algebra, mental calculations and solving problems in time, measurements and money?
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?
The Kumon Maths 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 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 encourage students to work 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. They do this using the Kumon worksheets that lead the student to figure things out, sum-by-sum using clues and examples.
The Kumon Maths Programme provides students with a thorough understanding and mental recall of number bonds and multiplications so that when they tackle more challenging topics, they have strong foundations from which to build. These key aspects of the maths programme benefit a child in Key Stage 2 because they have had the opportunity to practice thoroughly.
This example of a Kumon level C worksheet shows the moment where the multiplication of numbers of more than one digit is introduced. The child is already familiar with column carries as they have mastered this in the earlier levels and this worksheet builds on that, providing step-by-step examples and clues. This learning is essential because a good knowledge of times tables, multiplication and working with four-digit numbers is a vital part of the SATs measurement of the Key Stage 2 curriculum in England and Wales.
For example, the earlier part of level C is multiplication of single-digit numbers, e.g. 3×3=9, 4×4=16. Students repeatedly practise their single-digit multiplications so that they become confident and can complete pages of worksheets very quickly and fluently. They come to a point where they know their times tables so well, they do it without having to think consciously, they just ‘know it’. They can rely on this knowledge as they move forward in their learning.
When they reach level C51a, where the concept of two-digit × one-digit multiplication is introduced for the very first time, how will they feel about tackling this?
The first example on the page is 43×2= and has the box 86 already completed. Because of their fluency with single-digit multiplication, the child may look and understand that the right-hand column shows 3×2=6 and reason that this must be correct. But what about the answer box showing 8? Where did this 8 come from? A child that is already familiar with single-digit multiplication will see the pattern between an eight, a four and a two, and can accept the answer as 86 and start to work out why it is correct. Because of their experience in completing Kumon worksheets and looking at everything on the page, they will also find the note at the bottom of the page, which shows that there are two solutions for 43×2=86, achieved either through addition or through multiplication.
The worksheet then shows another example, 34×2=6, this time with only partial completion of the left-hand box and by thinking about it, they work out that they will need to complete the second box. They may find this straight-forward as it’s single-digit multiplication which they are already confident in.
The child is more confident in their ability and this sets them in good stead to progress with more advanced work. They naturally build upon their existing knowledge so that problem solving becomes enjoyable. New topics are introduced step-by-step, gradually building on the learning in the previous levels.
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 maths programme here.