Kumon joins discussion in the news

Jun 2015
"With Kumon, we aim to give our students work according to their level and ability."

On Saturday (6 June) the Kumon Pinner Study Centre was approached by Sky News who were exploring opinions on homework. Instructor of the centre, Minal Patel, appeared via live link to discuss the issue at hand.

Sky newsreader, Jannat Jalil, told us: "The way homework is allocated at one of Britain's leading independent schools could be changed as part of reforms to stem an epidemic of teenage mental illness.

"Cheltenham Ladies' College is set to review its homework policy over the next five years to help protect students from suffering depression."

Minal responded: "I believe homework after school is fine. I think a little bit of learning that goes beyond school work is very good. With Kumon, we aim to give our students work according to their level and ability, so they shouldn't really find it that challenging. It's all about raising the child's ability, raising their confidence, and making sure this can then help them with their school work."

Jannat questioned: "Surely you can only raise a child's ability if you make the homework challenging? I think the argument being put forward by the particular school, Cheltenham Ladies' College, is that perhaps this homework is putting too much pressure on young students at a high-achieving school."

Minal said: "Homework doesn't have to be challenging all the time, if you work according to the child's ability, in terms of you giving them work which is just right for them, then it shouldn't be so challenging and therefore the child should be able to do it.

"Also, if they can do work at home independently, then that will raise their confidence and hopefully they will reflect that in school as well.

When questioned about parental input, Minal said: "The whole idea behind Kumon is that the child isn't working with someone. Initially when they are very young, yes they do need additional support at home and at school, and at the centre, however that applies to everything in life where initially everyone needs a little bit of support.

"Afterwards though, the work given to them should be according to their standard so they can do it without the support of their parents."

"You've got some children who are very bright and who can sit down and concentrate. However, if their concentration is only two or three minutes long, we would give them work according to that. But if you give a two-year-old work which is 15-20 minutes long then obviously they haven't got that sort of concentration and therefore can't do it.

"I've got some children who can concentrate for half an hour-45 minutes, I've got some children who can concentrate only for ten minutes so again it's all about giving them work which they can manage, building that work up slightly.

"Doing work every day, builds their stamina, builds their confidence, and eventually it should reflect back to not just Kumon centres, but also within all the work they do in school.

"Homework shouldn't be testing, it should be supporting their learning. If you get them to do 15-20 minutes or even half an hour a day, that just basically regurgitates what they've learned in school and you know gets them into the habit of working beyond."

Since the news item, Principal of Cheltenham Ladies' College, Eve Jardine-Young, has commented: "The headline about homework being banned was not entirely accurate."

She said it was being looked at as an overall review of learning at the college.

At Kumon, our students complete work at home every day. We take this approach because completing an appropriate amount of work on a regular basis is simply more effective for the student than having longer study sessions with extended breaks – they will learn more efficiently and make stronger progress as they apply what they have learned. This sense of routine also fosters effective study habits and a positive attitude to study.

Our thanks goes to Minal for representing Kumon in national media and highlighting our views on this subject.