Mom’s Choice Award Winner: Kumon Math and Reading Center

Lots of local moms took their kids to the first day of school this morning. Soon we’ll be helping with homework again and reminding the kids to study for tests. So it’s the perfect time to profile this particular Mom’s Choice Award Winner — Kumon Math and Reading Center.

The Kumon Math and Reading Centers (there are locations in Fayetteville, Lowell and Bentonville) won “Best Tutoring Service” in BOTH Washington and Benton counties in the recent Mom’s Choice Business Awards. (Local moms voted for their favorites to determine these award winners.) Whether your kid is an ace with school work or is struggling or maybe he or she is somewhere in the middle, Kumon is designed to strengthen your kid’s abilities and make learning more fun. We continue to hear rave reviews from parents whose kids study at Kumon.

Below is an interview with a local Kumon director who offers some behind-the-scenes info on how these centers work.

How did your company get its name?

Kumon was named after its founder Mr. Toru Kumon. He was a high school math teacher who wanted his son to enjoy learning math and be prepared for college entrance exams. He gave his son short assignments to complete every day, with each concept building on the previous one. His aim was to have him develop a self-learning spirit so that he could become motivated to achieve anything on his own.

What is Kumon’s age range for students?

We work with students as young as three years old up to 12th grade students. Adults can also study with Kumon if they wish to challenge themselves or work towards certain math or reading goals. Many parents, including the instructors themselves, enroll their children sometimes at the young age of 2 ½ years old. The early level assignments are all about reciting, counting, etc. The math program goes up to calculus and the reading goes up to high level comprehension and critical thinking.

Does Kumon only work with kids who are struggling in school or is this program good for average and advanced students as well?

Kumon works for children of all abilities. Students who need extra help can build a solid academic foundation with Kumon. Often, we notice children who are struggling do so because there are gaps in their learning. Kumon does a great job of filling in those gaps and providing a strong foundation, not only with respect to content but also with study skills such as focus, concentration, and discipline. For advanced students, Kumon provides a challenge, daily reinforcement of positive study habits, discipline, self-motivation and advanced learning. All Kumon instructors aim to have all children, irrespective of their backgrounds, studying two to three years above their current grade level.

How do the instructors at Kumon make math and reading practice fun instead of a study session that kids might dread?

We keep the daily practice to 15-30 minutes a day or at the pace of the child. We offer incentives through the Cosmic Club program. Students receive “points” for being enrolled, completing levels, and many other reasons! Points can be redeemed for prizes that range from binoculars to laptops to video games. We want children to learn to develop focus and concentration, even if that means spending just a few minutes working quietly on assignments. As students develop their skills in Kumon, they begin to notice it takes them less time to do their homework for school.  This allows them even more time to engage in extracurricular actives.

What types of learning challenges does Kumon help students and parents overcome?

Kumon helps students experience what it means to be focused and consistent by doing work every day.  The daily study also helps improve and instill better focus and self-motivation. We do all this by helping children to figure things out on their own.

My child has trouble taking tests. Can Kumon help with test-taking skills and overcoming test anxiety?

Yes, absolutely. All of our students time their assignments daily, so they quickly become comfortable with test-taking conditions. Our self-learning method also helps students figure out how to take a test by carefully reading the instructions, questions, and critically thinking through the answer.

How often would my child need to come to Kumon?

Students come to the center twice a week for approximately 30-minutes per subject. Assignments are done at home the remaining five days of the week. Class time involves completing worksheets, making corrections, and being carefully observed by the instructor. Based on those observations, the instructor provides feedback to the student and/or parents to ensure the child is studying at a comfortable level and the study plan remains personalized.

What’s the best part of your job?

I think all Kumon instructors would agree that we love seeing children become confident and self-reliant within just a few months. We love the eagerness with which they come to do their work. It is amazing when they come and tell us they want to receive more practice on a certain worksheet because they want to make sure it’s understood well. And especially when students complete the math or reading program before reaching high school – that, we think is the icing on the cake!

Kumon directors Anitha (Bentonville), Srividya (Lowell) and Veronica (Fayetteville)

Give an example of a local child who you have seen benefit from his/her time at Kumon. (Child’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.)

“Adam” is a third (almost a fourth grader) grader who recently started doing algebra. He engages in concepts such as negative and positive integers, values of algebraic expressions and working with algebraic equations. “Adam” also takes classes in Taekwondo and swimming other than doing 20-30 minutes of Kumon every day. His parents are very grateful to Kumon for teaching him the value of self-study and discipline of doing his work on a daily basis. This has motivated him to work on his own consistently, with focus and self-motivation.

He’s very popular with students and teachers at his school and was unanimously chosen by his third grade classmates as student leader for their class. Adam has also been attending the Gifted and Talented program offered by his school district and is on his way to be selected for pre-advancement placement for algebra in middle school. He has been enrolled in Kumon for more than two years.

Our thanks to the Northwest Arkansas Kumon directors for this behind-the-scenes look at how Kumon centers operate. For more information, visit them online by clicking the links below. Or you can reach the directors at the numbers below:

Kumon of Bentonville: 479-273-5866 (Director Anitha Yerneni)

Kumon of Lowell: 479-770-0055 (Director Srividya Venkatasubramanya)

Kumon of Fayetteville: 479-595-8765 (Director Veronica Rueda)