Why I believe in the Kumon Method
Ann House has been the Instructor at the Sandhurst study centre for 12 years. She is a very proactive Instructor, having taken part in Instructor meetings across the UK and internationally to help shape the future of Kumon instruction. We caught up with Ann to discuss her experiences.
So what made Ann become a Kumon Instructor? "I was tutoring in Sandhurst and what surprised me was how many 13-14 year olds were having problems not because they didn't understand the questions but because the basic skills weren't there. I did not want my children to experience the same problems and be in that position and so when the Kumon centre in my area had a vacancy for an Instructor I expressed my interest."
Ann has previously taught maths in schools and been a tutor, so what is it about the Kumon Method of Learning she believes in? "From the children's point of view I like that it is very thorough with the basics, it does not limit a child to a particular level and they work at their own pace. From my perspective as an Instructor, I feel there is freedom to do the right thing for the individual. As a teacher there's more pressure to move the whole classroom on and it can't be as individualised."
Ann is a Kumon parent, with both her children having studied at her centre. "My son was my first Kumon student when he was seven and my daughter joined later when she was four; she gave me a very useful insight into how much work an early learner could take. My son was good at maths but he was able to be challenged at Kumon. My daughter was also good at maths but not very confident. My son has just finished his first year at university and has studied Maths and Further Maths at A-level, and my daughter is currently doing her GCSEs. Without a doubt, being a Kumon parent as well as an Instructor gave me a great insight, as you have an appreciation for the parent of how difficult it can be when their child is going through a difficult patch you know what daily life is like."
Ann was lucky enough to be one of the 7,000 Kumon Instructors and Associates from 34 countries who travelled to Yokohama, Japan for the Toru Kumon Centenary Celebration in March 2014. Ann said: "I found Japan fantastic; it was inspiring and I came back thinking I want to be in more contact with other Instructors. During my time in Japan it came across that there are all these children from different countries and they are acquiring education across the board. It is important to show Kumon students that when they are older they will be competing for jobs with others from all over the world and so it's important they have a world-class education. Two families from my centre are moving to India and both are looking to transfer to Kumon centres out there and continue their Kumon study; to me this shows the internationality of it.
"The benefits I feel children get from Kumon is initially the confidence and then that leads to them feeling confident enough to learn independently, such as getting them to work out a problem they are stuck on.
Children should be willing to have a go at solving the problem and not to feel silly if they make a mistake.
"I really enjoy working with children and seeing them increase in their educational skills and their confidence, but I think that's true of education generally. I think so much about being an Instructor it's not just about being the Instructor at the centre; it's also about the relationships with the families."