Glance quickly at the Kumon logo. It’s not a smile you see but rather a concentrating face. At Lacey’s new Kumon Math and Reading Center, you will find a roomful of students, heads down, working diligently on their individual enrichment program.
Kumon is an after-school enrichment program that encourages each student to “develop the skills necessary to have a richer, more successful education experience.” Olympia graduate, Andrew Taber, who owns the business with his wife, Naomi Muraoka, first learned of the Kumon program while living in Japan.
Kumon, which originated in Japan and has reached 46 countries, builds on a curriculum that supports independent learners. “Elementary curriculum may look a lot like what is being taught at Lydia Hawk or South Bay schools,” states Taber. “But by sixth grade, Kumon is very difficult as compared to local middle school’s curriculum. American and Japanese school curriculums diverge greatly after elementary school. International standards continue at a much greater pace.”
Interested families first attend an orientation and free placement test. Taber explains the Kumon method to parents. “Most families are very excited and motivated,” he states. Students participating in Kumon visit the learning center twice per week for thirty minutes. In addition, students work at home an additional five nights per week. The Kumon program stresses daily work.
Taber’s daughter began Kumon Japanese and Math programs at age four. “It was amazing to see her develop her independent learning skills. She could do as much or as little as she wanted and she just ate it up,” describes Taber.
His son, however, began the Kumon Reading program following a speech delay diagnosis. “We were scared. What could be accomplished in only 45 minutes of speech therapy, once a week?” says Taber. “Eighteen months after his first standardized speech test by a speech therapist, he took the test again. Now, he scored one standard deviation above average whereas the first test showed him one standard deviation below average. We did not know how much progress he had made until we saw the test scores!”
To support its goal of creating independent learners, Kumon students check-in before beginning their work. Once completed, the student submits the work to a grader. The grader returns the paper and the student corrects any mistakes before resubmitting the work. When all work has been successfully completed, the student signs out.
Some students may need to repeat the lesson. “My son needed a lot of repetition. For example, it’s typical for a student to work on Level A math twice. My son did it five times before he mastered it,” says Taber.
Parents play a vital role in their children’s success at Kumon. “Parents have to encourage a regular schedule and praise accomplishments,” indicates Taber.
“I believe that any student, whether there is a learning disability or exceptional skills, can learn the material,” comments Taber. “My favorite part is watching a student, who loves the progress she is making, and knowing that I am giving her the tools to do that herself.”
The business opened in September and is celebrating its grand opening on January 25, 2012 4-6 pm (please RSVP with firstname.lastname@example.org.) Kumon is open Monday and Thursday from 3:00 – 7:00 pm. To learn more, visit the Center’s website or call 360.915.6871.