Math: Level J (equivalent to senior secondary school level, three years ahead of school grade) Chinese: Level I (equivalent to junior secondary school level, two years ahead of school grade)
No Sweet Without Sweat – Student Hong
For those students and parents who know about Kumon, the term of “advancing beyond school grade” probably sounds very familiar.
When it comes to why and the benefits of “advancing beyond school grade”, perhaps everyone answers differently. Some people may say that advancing beyond school grade implies students do not need to rely on the instructor to teach, instead, they can complete new contents by themselves, and they feel incredible and happy. Some may say after they advanced beyond school grade, they would learn easily at school. Today, we have our excellent student, Hong, who described the journey of advanced study as “no sweet without sweat”.
Like to Learn New Knowledge, but also Understand the Need for Review
Hong has been learning Kumon Math since Primary 1. After more than three years, when we interviewed him, he had just started his Primary 5. He was in Level H of the Kumon Math, which was equivalent to Secondary 2 level. About studying Kumon Math, Hong shared, “I just thought that calculation was very easy.” However, as following the higher level of the learning materials, he said, “I have learned to look at the examples and thought on my own without instructor’s teaching, I feel a sense of accomplishment.”
When children and parents look at the worksheets of Kumon Math for the first time, especially the low levels of the learning materials, most of their first expression would be like “All are calculation questions.” Then they will ask, “Does Kumon only help children develop the skill of calculation?” Although calculation is designed as a breakthrough point of Kumon Math learning materials, calculation ability is not the only skill that is cultivated. In Kumon Math, from the Level D below, every new knowledge point is designed with guidance and hints which allow children to understand the method in the process of solving the questions on their own. From level D up, all new contents start with examples, which allow children to look at the examples and imitate the method to solve the questions, and to learn the steps and the rules as well. These are the abilities that Kumon can help children develop —the skills of self-thinking and self-learning.
Hong said, “I really like learning new knowledge, I feel incredible that I can find out the answers on my own.” But he also understands that “if my instructor arranges review for me, it is certain that my foundation was not firm enough in that specific part. If my practice doesn’t go well, then I would not understand the new contents; previous knowledge is not firm, it would be harder to build it on.”
Advancing Beyond School Grade | No Sweet Without Sweat
Some classmates asked Hong before, “Do you think Kumon is good?” Hong answered, “it is all right, it can help you learn at ease, you should enroll too.” Then we asked Hong, “Kumon requires doing homework every day, how can you learn at ease?” Hong answered without a second thought, “Then it would be more difficult for you when you get into junior secondary school. What if we learn it earlier, then it will be easier when we are in junior secondary school. The bitter must come before the sweet.”
We are so impressed that Hong has such a vision as a little boy. Just because the Math is going to be harder in junior and senior secondary school, the burden is going to be heavier; therefore, Kumon focuses on letting children “only learn the necessary contents, but not everything” in learning materials and achieve advancing beyond school grade. Then they can grasp the knowledge earlier and attain adequate academic knowledge in advance, which helps children study easily in secondary school.
After advancing beyond school grade in Kumon, when Hong comes into those contents at school, he would still pay attention, and would even “actively participate in class, and answer questions confidently”.
Hong’s mother agrees, “In these couple years of Kumon learning, I think his learning helps his school study a lot. Regarding the worry of not paying attention at school, I don’t think it would be a problem. The study at school and Kumon are different. Somehow when the teacher teaches the content that he has learned in Kumon, he would understand quickly. Kumon makes him understand the contents may be a bit faster than other students. On the other hand, for the contents his teacher teaches, he may have a deeper understanding.”
Individualized Instruction ---- Able to Keep Moving
Hong’s Kumon learning journey was not going smoothly all the time. When he faced obstacles, he did ask his mom and instructor if he could drop off from Kumon, “that is too difficult, I don’t want to learn.” But his instructor’s response is what Hong’s mom appreciated the most.
Hong’s mom said, “Hong went to some tutorial classes before, and everyone in the class was at different levels; it means that their abilities are probably different, is that right? Therefore, some children can learn well, but some can’t. But Kumon learning depends on children’s progress and allows children to strive for the good result and the good grade on their own. Children should not be compared because of their differences; they have to move forth individually. When hard times came, his instructor would communicate and discuss with us the adjustment to find the appropriate learning contents for him to overcome the obstacles.”
In September 2017, Hong just turned to Secondary 1, his Kumon Math has reached the senior secondary school level. We look forward to interviewing him again, to see if his junior secondary school life is as fun as in primary school.