Observing that ‘lightbulb moment’ is my favourite part of being a Kumon Instructor
Before becoming the Instructor of the Kumon Corby Study Centre, Kim had already led a rather extraordinary life. She grew up, studied and worked in America, and after graduating from university with a degree in Computer Science, she worked as a software engineer for large conglomerates. Kim always had an interest in teaching and soon landed a successful role at Microsoft to educate fellow software engineers. However, with a desire to become her own boss, she later started her own business where she taught her peers Microsoft Windows programming training. Kim also wrote a book and was a columnist in a magazine for some years. She moved to England after meeting her husband to be, started a family and later, discovered Kumon.
As a mum to two boys, Kim discovered that mainstream school didn’t particularly suit them; her younger son disliked school because he could only progress to a certain level, while her older son was baffled by the school and adopted a different learning style to what was taught in mainstream education. Coincidentally, Kim came across a Kumon stand at a school fête and thought it was great supplementary education that would help both her children.
As a result, the boys studied Kumon for six years. The head-start Kumon gave them was a factor that inspired Kim to become a Kumon Instructor. She expressed, “I started home-schooling my boys throughout their mainstream education because school was simply not for them. Kumon was definitely the spine to the boys’ schooling. The programmes helped my younger son to excel through the levels at his own pace; he is now 21 and plays table tennis professionally in Sweden. Kumon study nurtured my older son, Adam, to improve his ability; he actually outpaced his brother and is currently running the Kumon Corby Study Centre with me.”
Kim has always believed in giving children the best support with their education. As a Kumon parent and through her son's achievements, she already knew how effective the method was and was keen to run her own business. Through a chance conversation with her sons’ Instructor Ann Robin at the Kumon Beaconsfield Study Centre, Kim felt encouraged to consider becoming a Kumon Instructor and she successfully opened the Corby centre in the summer of 2015.
Years on, Kim continues to find her role as a Kumon Instructor extremely rewarding. Sharing her perspective on the benefits that children gain from Kumon, Kim told us, “Kumon is different to other supplementary educational programmes; the method allows for individualisation, so is geared towards how each child learns. Successful Kumon study requires everyone to fulfil their role; by this I mean the Kumon Instructor, the student and their parents. I have built great relationships with my Kumon parents. I regularly receive feedback from parents regarding how they can recognise an improvement in their child’s abilities and a great work ethic. Because Kumon nurtures independence in children, parents appreciate that they rarely have to worry about helping their child with their Kumon or school homework.”
A Kumon Instructor has a great sense of responsibility for running a successful centre, and this includes planning. Kim gave us an insight into her typical day as a Kumon Instructor: “Teaching and becoming a Kumon Instructor are two very different things. As a Kumon Instructor, my focus is to ensure each child swiftly develops and progresses through the programme with correct support and guidance. Good instruction takes a lot of planning and organisation and is the biggest piece of the pie, but this is one of my favourite factors about being a Kumon Instructor. As an organised person, I love to plan ahead.”
Local marketing is another important aspect of a Kumon Instructor’s job. Kim told us, “When I first became a Kumon Instructor, I didn’t know much about marketing. Since my son, Adam came on board, we have started to engage in all-year-round, large-scale marketing such as magazine covers and billboards, which serves a great purpose for my market in Corby. A word of advice to those looking to become a Kumon Instructor or new Instructors is always market according to the needs of your local area. Once you meet those needs, you’ll reap the rewards of marketing first-hand.”
Observing a student learn something new is one of Kim’s favourite aspects of the role. “When I know a student hasn’t seen a certain question or topic before - for example, a fraction - it amazes me to see with time how they start to understand the question in front of them by pointing out the example or writing a little prompt on their worksheet. This is when the ‘ah-ha!’ lightbulb moment happens, and it makes everything worth it. This is why I love my role as a Kumon Instructor!”
Kim aspires to continue to grow her centre; her son, Adam is the new deputy who she hopes will eventually take over the centre, in the future. Kim looks forward to witnessing this transition: “As a former Kumon student, Adam understands the Kumon Method very well; he remembers learning all the levels. He can relate first-hand to what a child may be thinking whilst completing certain topics, or where they may need support. We have great talks about setting students' progress reports. Co-running the centre with me now is a brilliant head start for Adam to gain the knowledge and practical experience for our future plans.”