The Highly Effective “Kumon Method”

The Kumon Method was created by Toru Kumon. It is a mathematics and reading educational method practiced in Kumon centers. The Kumon method is registered under the Kumon Educational Japan Co., Ltd., and has many franchised learning centers all around the world.

Kieran Huggins

Toru Kumon (March 26, 1914 – July 25, 1995), was a Japanese mathematics teacher. He was born in Kōchi Prefecture and graduated from the College of Science at Osaka University with a mathematics degree. He taught high school math in his hometown of Osaka.

When Toru’s son Takeshi was in 2nd grade in 1954, he performed rather poorly in a math exam. Takeshi’s mother, Teiko, asked her husband to take a closer look at their son’s textbooks from school. Toru, being a high school math teacher, had first hand experience on how to make his own students understand his lessons more. Toru thought that his son’s textbooks did not provide enough practice for students to be confident in a particular topic. Toru decided to help his son by handwriting worksheets specifically suited for Takeshi to practice with. This was the beginning of the Kumon Method.

When Takeshi was in the 6th grade, he had already mastered his father’s hand-written worksheets for four years and could confidently solve differential and integral calculus problems. Neighbours and friends noticed Takeshi’s wondrous achievements and asked Mr. Kumon to help their own children learn mathematics using his method. It was through word of mouth that the Kumon Method began to spread. In 1956, the first kumon center was established, and in 1958, only  four years after Toru conceived the idea to create his hand-written worksheets, the Kumon Institute of Education was established in Osaka. The first year of operation saw 300 students through recommendations by parents whose children saw great improvement in their performance in mathematics using the Kumon Method. This set the foundation and standards for the Kumon Centers found all over the world.

The Kumon Programs are designed to strengthen the fundamental math skills by studying worksheets that are created for a particular student’s ability. The method also teaches a student to learn independently and to study advanced material beyond their current level. The same technique is also used for language skills.

Kumon level up. | Bruno Covas

Students then progress to the next level once they master a topic. Kumon defines mastery as being able to achieve an excellent score on the test materials provided. Kumon strongly emphasizes the importance of time and accuracy in his method.

Toru Kumon gave lectures on his method of learning during his later years, as well as the importance of having students learn material suited to their ability and not their age. The first Kumon franchise  opened in Tokyo in 1962. Today, there are Kumon franchises in the United States of America, Brazil, Germany, Philippines, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India and more. A Kumon Foundation Day is celebrated on October 20 each year in Japan.