What Exactly is Self-Learning? - Kumon

What Exactly is Self-Learning?

Girl in white shirt smiling and writing notes in a blue pen pointing at something in her notebook.

How You Can Help Your Child Develop this Important Skill

You may have heard that Kumon develops independent, self-learners. But do you really know what we mean when we talk about self-learning?

Most of us are used to passive learning in school. A teacher presents while students take notes and ask questions. Students who self-learn, on the other hand, essentially teach themselves. Instead of having a concept explained to them, they use instructions, context clues, and examples to figure out the answer on their own. When a student develops the ability to self-learn, they can study any subject confidently.

A child who is strong in their ability to self-learn will: 

  • be willing to try new problems on their own 
  • be more resilient on challenging material 
  • learn the concept better on the first try 
  • make deeper connections between exercises, topics, and even other subjects 
  • be unafraid of making mistakes and understand that they will learn from the attempt 

Kumon Instructors are trained to guide their students to become self-learners. Instead of directly teaching or tutoring, Instructors give hints and support their students as they figure out problems on their own.

Self-learning is also a skill that can be learned and reinforced at home. Here are a few guidelines that you can use to cultivate self-learning in your child at home

Math Self-Learning Hints
Reading Self-Learning Hints

• Draw your child’s attention to examples and guide boxes which introduce a new topic or variation and require extra attention.
• Ask, “What’s new or different from what you were just learning?”
• Ask your child to explain the problem to you. Often this can help them recognize their mistake.
• Ask your child to re-read the exercise if they can’t move forward.
• Refer your child back to the a-side of the worksheet for examples or vocabulary (if applicable).
• Ask your child to reread the passage aloud for deeper understanding.
• Help your child infer the meaning of a difficult word from its root, the context of the passage, or a dictionary.

Self-learning is a process. Even if your child doesn’t get the answer right away, there is still the opportunity for them to learn from later exercises, or while correcting their mistakes after grading. It’s important to avoid explaining the solution too quickly. This can reduce the opportunity for them to self-learn and may undermine their knowledge of the subject. 

Above all else, when your child demonstrates even a little self-learning or perseverance, praise them to acknowledge their hard work! 

Self-learning can take months or even years to develop fully. Your child’s enjoyment of learning shouldn’t be compromised by too much pressure to self-learn. It’s a balance that takes practice. When your child is able to use what they have learned to sit with a new or difficult problem until they can solve it, they will be prepared for many of the obstacles life will throw at them.