Standards are high at both international schools and local schools in Singapore, even at preschools and kindergartens. If you’re new in town, or feel your child is falling behind and don’t want it to affect their confidence, it may be worth getting enrichment classes for them. Kumon caters to kids as young as three years, and is known for taking a differentiated approach to learning; so, the programmes are pitched at a level that’s suitable for each individual. Teacher REEMA RAWAT from the Kumon centre at River Valley (Nathan Road) tells us what we can expect.
#1 What programmes are on offer?
There are Mathematics, English and Chinese enrichment classes for ages three to 16. The Chinese programme is available at selected Kumon centres.
#2 What is Kumon’s learning philosophy?
Kumon believes in supporting the child according to their ability and not by age. Each child will have a customised plan catered to their needs, enabling them to progress at their own pace. We aim to teach children to become self-learners from an early age. Instead of spoon-feeding answers, we guide them to learn from examples.
We believe that students make real academic progress when they learn and practise on their own. Through independent learning at a suitable difficulty level, they gain confidence and develop their abilities – sometimes even beyond what they expect.
#3 Why are self-learning skills so important for children?
It builds critical thinking skills and mindset to learn new things. Kumon Founder Toru Kumon once said, “There is a limit to how much one can teach, but there is no limit to how far one can advance through self-learning.”
#4 How is learning catered to each child?
Before children start lessons at Kumon, we do a diagnostic test to figure out the right starting point according to their abilities. We create a study plan and make a goal projection for a year to chart how the child will progress. For younger children, worksheets have more pictures to engage them more effectively. We also have worksheets to develop the motor skills of very young learners.
#5 What happens in the classroom?
Unlike typical lessons where new concepts are taught step-by-step and children follow, at Kumon, we let them figure out the steps from the example given. We offer hints on the steps to take so that if a mistake is made, the instructor is able to point out the wrong step and the child can correct it on their own. This process continues until the child fully understands the new concept.
Two or three children are assigned to a teacher, with students eventually moving on to become independent and supervised by a teacher when needed. Questions are pitched at a suitable level to keep students challenged but engaged and motivated. Time-keeping also helps them to stay competitive. When they master a new concept by themselves or with little help, they’ll be able to feel a great sense of achievement.
#6 How is learning made fun and interactive?
Learning materials such as the number board and CD listening (for language programmes) add an element of fun. The number board is a great way to teach children numbers and counting by placing seeds matching to the numbers on the board. As they listen and read aloud to fun stories on the CDs, children also improve their pronunciation.
#7 Is Kumon best for those who may need some help with schoolwork or those who excel?
Kumon is for children of different abilities. We have kids doing the mathematics programme who have progressed five years ahead of their age and school grade level as well as those who are a little behind their school grade. Both benefit from the programme. We start from where the child is and plan a suitable route for them according to their capacity and pace.
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