Three-Time Spelling Bee Champion Always Welcomes a Challenge - Kumon

Three-Time Spelling Bee Champion Always Welcomes a Challenge

Shaylen poses in front of a gray background wearing a blue plaid shirt

Shaylen, 12-years-old, Math Level N

“Proboscis” and “tokamak.” Two words that most don’t know the definition of, let alone how to spell without seeing them first. However, 12-year-old Shaylen is not like most people. Those words are just two of many that have won him first place at multiple spelling bees. Holding the title of spelling bee champion is far from this 7th -grader’s only accomplishment. An avid pianist, he performs at recitals and at various

Shaylen poses with his cellonursing homes. Shaylen is also a brown belt in Taekwondo, plays the cello in a local orchestra, and competes in his school’s Math Olympiad. Despite all of his extra-curricular commitments, Shaylen is far ahead of his class academically, often already knowing material upon introduction by his teacher. That’s because somehow, between it all, he is studying advanced high school math, years beyond his grade level, through the Kumon Math Program.

“Kumon has been instrumental in helping me focus better and effectively manage all of my activities,” said Shaylen. “When it comes to mastering pieces on the piano or cello, I learned them bit-by-bit like the Kumon Method promotes, helps me learn and understand it to my full potential.”

Shaylen speaks at a podium at the Student ConferenceShaylen’s parents enrolled him in the Kumon Math Program at five years old, where he started out counting numbers. In just seven short years, he has advanced to mastering infinite geometric theories, quadratic inequalities, and discontinuous functions. Being so far ahead of his class has enabled Shaylen to focus on his passions outside of the classroom, especially spelling competitions and attending religion class, along with being able to assist his peers in their understanding of grade level material they may be struggling with.

“I stay motivated to continue on with Kumon, even if the work feels challenging,” said Shaylen. “My favorite thing about the program is the fact I am only given examples when I need it. If there was an explanation for every problem, where is the chance to be challenged?”

Unsurprisingly, Shaylen was one of 56 students selected from around North America to attend Kumon’s 3rd Annual Student Conference. The event took place in Chicago, Illinois, and enabled extraordinary students like Shaylen to connect and challenge each other through group activities and presentations. We had the chance to catch up with Shaylen to learn more about his journey with Kumon, and what it all means to him.

How has Kumon helped you academically?

Shaylen poses on a bridge

Because of Kumon, I find schoolwork and homework easier to do. In math, I already know the materialwhen the teacher introduces the new concept. When I notice someone struggling in class, I try to help them. Being ahead in math allows me to focus on other subjects like ELA and social studies.

How has Kumon helped you outside of the classroom?

Kumon has really helped me focus better to manage all my activities, along with improving my sense of responsibility and my time management. This plays a big part in managing my schoolwork, being able to practice my instruments, and participating in other activities almost daily.

What is the most beneficial thing you’ve learned in Kumon thus far?

The most beneficial thing I’ve learned in Kumon is to have perseverance and motivation to keep going.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Shaylen poses with his parents at the Student ConferenceI don’t know yet, but I do love science! I’m very interested in biology, engineering, physics, chemistry, and astronomy.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I’m proudest of my achievements in the spelling bees I’ve participated in. For the past three years, I have won the grade-level bee, the school spelling bee, the district-level bee, and advanced to the Capital Region Spelling Bee for my area in New York State where the winner goes to the Scripps National Spelling Bee! This past school year I was most proud because I placed 11th out of 117 spellers!

What advice would you give to kids just starting Kumon?

My advice to new Kumon Students would be that you’re going to find some parts fun and easy, and some parts very difficult, but I can promise you that it’s going to help you in so many different aspects of your life.

How did you feel when you found out you were selected to attend the Student Conference?

When I opened my acceptance letter for the Student Conference, I had so many different feelings. I was ecstatic and very proud. I was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to go!

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspiration is my parents.  I like their lifestyle of “Work hard, play hard.” I noticed that they work very hard day to day, but then take very big family vacations and enjoy themselves. I would like to be like them, and I know they want me to always challenge myself and be the best that I can be!

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