Repetition and its Purpose in The Kumon Program
“Perfect or not, practice is the best way to get better”
What does your child need in order to play a sport well, play an instrument skillfully, or perform a discipline like ballet or karate with seeming ease? That’s right… Practice. Just like sports teams practice drills for the plays to be second nature at game time, just like piano learners may practice scales, just like dancers practice their routines, Kumon students improve their math and reading skills through practice or repetition.
Why is repetition important?
The Kumon math and reading programs are designed so that each new concept builds on the previous one. Once the learner is strong in one concept, they move confidently on to the next. Additionally, certain concepts might warrant more repetition than others for certain students. Just like a basketball player might practice their layup or their dunk, Kumon students may practice their addition facts or their multiplication facts repeatedly. Whether in basketball or at Kumon, meaningful practice will go a long way.
Imagine that your child hasn’t mastered addition and moved past subtraction to multiplication. Will they be able to solve this problem easily?
There are four different multiplication calculations and three different addition calculations necessary to solve this problem. If a student is struggling with both addition and multiplication, this problem can take a long time to solve, and in turn become frustrating, demotivating, and lead to a loss of self-confidence.
However, appropriate repetition provides not only speed but confidence in how to solve problems. Once children develop confidence and curiosity about learning new things, they become capable of succeeding on their own. One of the goals of Kumon is to help children experience the joy of learning and advancing independently, enabling them to become individuals who keep learning and growing throughout their lives.
Why do instructors plan repetition for students?
“Your Instructor is your guide along the way”
Your child’s Instructor has a long-term path mapped out for them called a study projection. Think of the projection as a final destination and the lesson plan as the road map. The assigned worksheets are the steps along the path. Understanding where there might be bumps along the way will make getting through them a bit easier.
With appropriate repetition, students can continue to progress smoothly in the math and reading programs while remaining motivated and interested in their studies. In Kumon, how quickly a student completes their work (even with minor errors), compared to student averages, helps to determine whether they are ready to advance.
Each worksheet set has a time range within which it is designed to be done called the Standard Completion Time. Taking too long or making too many errors can be indicative of a student’s understanding. Since Kumon students always correct their mistakes to 100%, how quickly they can correct mistakes is also an indicator of whether repetition is needed. Finally, how a student approaches their work, and their motivation throughout, affects their course of study, too.
Communication of goals and student motivation go hand in hand. Repetition is just a part of the journey, meant to make the path easier and more fulfilling in the end. Talking to your child and their instructor can result in a greater understanding of the purpose and the outcomes of repetition.
As students advance in the program and develop into self-learners, they become very self-aware. Under the close guidance of their instructor, students can start to provide input into where they feel they might need repetition. The greatest challenge, and perhaps even the greatest value, of the final levels of the math and reading programs, is the development of the student’s self-learning ability through increasingly challenging content.
The partnership between student and instructor can lead to highly motivated and independent students who finish the program. What makes a program completer such an incredible learner is the skill development and self-learning they have experienced and the challenges they have overcome independently.