Q&A #1543

Kumon math method

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 09, 1999 at 08:11:24
Subject: Re: Kumon math method

The Kumon method of mathematics instruction has a homepage out of Hong Kong.
The URL for that page is


Here is what I know about the process from a quick search, and from listening
to a presentation several years ago. The student picks up a worksheet that
selected for him. This sheet is at a level the child can comfortably deal
with, and allows him to practice arithmetic computation. The child cannot to
go on to the next level sheet until he completes the sheet with 100% accuracy.

Here is information from an Australian website concerning their program.

The Keys of Kumon's Success


The Kumon Method is designed to offer each student an individual program.
Each student absorbs knowledge at his/her own rate. Some students are faster
or slower than the others are. Some are excited and keen to progress at rates
far more than those around them. Kumon can cater for all abilities and age


Repetition is the basis of Kumon's success. Therefore, it is quite normal for
students to repeat. Repetition gives students adequate time to consolidate
and master each area covered in the Kumon, leading students onto excellence
with ease.


When students are enrolled in the Kumon program, they are given a diagnostic
test. Based on the results of this test, they commence their program at an
easy starting point. They can then begin their Kumon experience with success,
attaining 100% and building confidence with each set.


Kumon teaches students to think for themselves, and to be able to look,
learn, and answer questions on their own. It is a self-learning program. The
Kumon worksheets replace a teacher. The program is strictly graded to make
progress smooth and easy. Confidence will come next. Once in a while a little
instruction may be given, but generally the children master the new skill of
self-learning with great joy. To learn by yourself is the greatest way of


As students enroll in the program, they are encouraged to set aside a short
time, usually between 10 to 30 minutes for Kumon each day. They are also
encouraged to adopt a particular time for Kumon too. Even the youngest child
works well if good study habits are set.


The aim of Kumon is to prepare the student to cope comfortably with higher
school studies when they attend high school. Kumon follows a program that
will give the students this ability.

I looked at the samples provided on the homepage, and saw many examples of
computation, but little or no word problems to help students make connections
between the computation and the practical application. The word problems I
did see were routine computational problems. I did not find any examples of
non-routine problem solving.

There does not seem to be any place for discourse, either. I think students
learn from discussing the patterns and relationships they are uncovering as
they explore.

Finally, I did not see the use of manipulatives even for the primary
problems. It appears to be rote memorization with no other means of

I suppose this might be a way of perfecting arithmetic proficiency, but I can
imagine the frustration I would have if someone told me that I had to redo my
checkbook each time I made an arithmetic mistake. Yes, such mistakes could be
costly, but is this the way to go? I am not convinced it is.

 -Gail, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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