I recently finished the Kumon Math Program, and wrote a short piece on my experience. If you don’t know, the Kumon Math Program is a system of worksheets that teaches math from simple addition (Level A) to advanced calculus (Level O and the X Levels). I wrote this piece for the coordinator of the Kumon center I went to, so I kept a positive feeling to it. I have no problem sharing my ideas with the world, so here they are:
I began the Kumon Math Program when I was in fifth grade. My math skills were average; they were certainly not worse than most of my peers, but nor were they exceedingly better. I did the program for seven years, starting in Level A and finishing the X Levels. The experience wasn’t always fun and enjoyable, but it has been priceless for me for two reasons. Firstly, I have a strong understanding of the basic fundamentals of mathematics including algebra and calculus. Secondly, Kumon has taught me how to learn, and has given me the confidence to learn new material (not necessarily mathematical) with ease.
I began Kumon in level A, where simple one digit addition and subtraction is taught. I didn’t want to start in such a low level, and I felt bad for being in one of the easiest levels. However, through the lower levels, I developed a strong understanding of basic mathematic principles. I could do the four basic operations faster than everyone in my class; I remember in sixth grade, I finished a simple addition test much, much faster than everyone else in my class. Even in further grades, I marveled at how my peers weren’t comfortable with the basic operations and often resorted to calculators; I never felt that need. This lesson became more important when more difficult mathematics were being taught, such as algebra and calculus. By gaining a strong understanding of the fundamentals of these fields, I had a much easier time learning content than my peers did. I also didn’t learn any math in school that I hadn’t already learned in Kumon until the final two years of high school. This made school mathematics a breeze for me, and I never struggled as my peers sometimes did.
Kumon taught me a lot of math and gave me a strong understanding of its principles, but more importantly, it taught me how to learn new material. Because of my core understanding of math, I understood new material much faster than my peers. I learned through Kumon that practice makes perfect. The program instilled a better work ethic into me, although I didn’t always abide by it. Still, the lessons I learned about study habits made me a better student, and aided me greatly in school.
Although I am appreciative of the lessons Kumon taught me, it wasn’t always an enjoyable experience. When I was younger, I hated having to do extra homework while my friends would relax. The program was also extremely repetitive at times, more than it needed to be (in my opinion). It was always frustrating getting stuck on a concept, but I did learn how to overcome such obstacles. I felt like a lot of the math I was learning was useless, but when I got to high school, I learned otherwise, and began to truly appreciate the program. I don’t have too many complaints, as the friends who I saw relax while I had to study were the same friends who struggled immensely with topics that came to me like second nature. Yes, the program wasn’t always fun and enjoyable, but the benefits are undeniable.
If I knew about the entire program, would I do it again? I would certainly do up to Level J, as I feel that a lot of important fundamental concepts are taught up to that level. After that level, however, I would pick and choose only the most important content from each level. I felt like a fair bit of the content in the higher levels was unnecessarily difficult, as I more than once found myself in situations where no one could help me too much. Perhaps I’ll learn that math later in my life and remember Kumon then, but I think that for most people, learning some of the higher level content is unnecessary as it takes too long to master, and isn’t needed to enhance mathematical understanding (though I may yet be contradicted). For this reason, I would only do up to Level J, and then pick and do the most important content of the higher levels.
The Kumon Math Program has benefitted me in several ways, as it has given me a strong understanding of mathematical fundamentals and taught me much about myself as a learner. I’ve gained an abundance of confidence because of the program, and attribute my success in high school math to Kumon. The program isn’t always fun, and a bit of the advanced material seems unnecessary to me (right now, at least), but the benefits of the program far outweigh these minor grievances. I would recommend the program to anyone seeking a strong understanding of the fundamentals of math; it will do them wonders in their future studies. I am grateful for the mathematical content and life lessons I’ve learned through the program, and I hope they continue to serve me for the rest of my studies and life.
I tried to be as honest as possible while remaining positive when I wrote this. If I am to be more honest and less positive in this piece, I would stress the grievances a lot more, as I felt they played a big role in making my experience less than perfect. Still, I can’t complain with the results. I hope you find this helpful if you ever consider doing the program!