Overcoming Challenging Levels in the Kumon Math Program
Working through the Kumon Program can be much like building a house. Before you even pour the foundation, you need an idea of what you want the house to look like when it’s done. How many floors it will have, how many bedrooms, and how many bathrooms?
When your child studies at Kumon, you will want a similar vision of what the program can do for them. What will their skills look like when they finish? If your child is enrolled in math, you may be interested to know that the math program has 20 levels. This international program starts with counting and number recognition and goes all the way through calculus. The earlier levels form the foundation for strong math skills, much like a foundation provides a solid base on which the house is to be built.
The foundational math levels in Kumon start with the “A” levels: 6A through A. The exercises in these levels solidify a child’s number sense, and later, their ability to add quickly. It starts with counting up to 10 (in level 6A), up to 30 (in level 5A), writing numbers up to 50 (in level 4A), adding up to 3 (in level 3A), adding up to 10 (in level 2A), and horizontal addition and subtraction (in level A). The Kumon Program isn’t simply about doing the worksheets once and moving on to the next concept. Kumon students become proficient in each of these concepts before moving on to the next one, and this is achieved through individualized lesson plans closely monitored by their Instructor. For students to overcome challenges that might arise in their Kumon study, there are some important points to keep in mind:
The foundation is important.
Whether your child is studying math or reading, their starting point in the Kumon worksheets begins with concepts familiar to them so that they can build the habit of studying every day. Other skills, such as time awareness, pacing, concentration, and confidence, to name a few, are being developed at this time, too. It is important to consider all of these things, not just the academic content of the worksheets, in a student’s Kumon journey. Although the content of the worksheets might be easy, they should not rush through their study of these foundational levels. When building a house, would you want the builder to rush to pour the foundation, resulting in it not setting properly or forming cracks after starting to build on it? You want a strong foundation, both for your house and for your child’s Kumon study.
A little bit, every day, goes a long way.
While it is important for your child to attend their Kumon Center every week, it is just as important that they complete their homework daily, conscientiously, and with a good attitude. The time to complete the worksheets may vary, but on average students spend about 30 minutes per subject. The exact timing will depend on the Kumon level, concept, and the workload (number of pages). It is the daily study of the worksheets that drives the forward progress in terms of mastery, understanding, skill development, and motivation to learn more. Try to have a consistent “Kumon” time where your child can work distraction-free on their worksheets, every day.
Learn from mistakes.
It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s very important to learn from them. Just like you wouldn’t want to wait until your house is fully built to fix a crack in the foundation, Kumon students should correct mistakes daily so that they don’t build up over the week and then become so overwhelming that they are demotivated. Additionally, if corrections are done properly – by analyzing the response and correcting only what is wrong – this will aid the student in smoother study down the line. Students should not blindly erase answers before looking at their work and locating the error because they may get the same wrong answer more than once!
Repetition is an important part of learning.
Now that the foundation has been laid, and the house is getting close to being finished, it’s time to paint the rooms. Often, the lengthiest step in the painting process is the preparation- removing outlet covers, taping the edges of where the paint will go, laying tarps over the floor and counters, and putting a coat of primer if needed. After that, you can start actually painting! When you apply the first coat of paint, it may take a while. Perhaps the task is new to you, or you just want it to be done carefully and conscientiously. Then, the room will need a second coat of paint. You have the experience of putting on the first coat; putting on a second coat can likely be done a little faster. The repetition of the task has given you confidence as well as some know-how.
The same can be said about the Kumon worksheets. The first time seeing a particular worksheet, especially when studying two or three years beyond grade level, provides the student with exposure to several new experiences, such as the academic concept itself, the pace of completing the worksheet, and the concentration involved in completing the work, among others. If and when the student sees the worksheet again, there is a familiarity, which can bestow confidence in their ability to understand the concept and work through it more steadily than before, resulting in higher accuracy and the motivation to tackle the next concept. Some students may need more repetition than this, and the individualized nature of the Kumon program speaks directly to this.
Begin with the end in mind.
Goal setting is an important part of life, whether you’re building a house, striving to achieve personal goals, or doing Kumon. Imagine you’ve finished putting the roof on the house and then decide that you want to add another floor. What would that look like!? A clear vision for the completed house can help keep things in perspective, and provide motivation to finish, especially if there are bumps along the way. Much like with construction projects, it is important to be flexible and adjust. As your child makes their way on their Kumon journey, keep the long-term goals in mind, and remember to celebrate the milestones they achieve along the way.