The Kumon Method of Learning originated in Japan and was developed because of the love of one parent for his child. It is now a highly esteemed method of education that benefits students around the world.
Right at this moment, someone, somewhere, is learning with Kumon.
More than 50 years have passed since Kumon was founded; presently, over 4 million students in 50 countries and regions are studying with the Kumon Method.
The Kumon Method aims to develop the basic academic skills of reading, writing, and maths regardless of a student’s age; it is an individualised study method that enables students to become self-learners.
At its foundation Kumon aims to develop basic academic skills and the positive results the Kumon Method achieves has been recognised; this is why it has been welcomed into communities around the world with widely differing cultures, values, and educational systems.
1958: Kumon is established
Toru Kumon wrote out calculation problems on loose-leaf paper for his son, Takeshi, and those materials became the prototype for today’s Kumon worksheets. With the desire to “help as many children as possible fulfill their potential”, company founder, Toru Kumon, established the Osaka Institute of Mathematics in 1958 in Osaka City. From this point onward, Kumon began providing the opportunity to study to more and more children.
From the start, Toru Kumon strongly believed that the Kumon Method was applicable worldwide and he wanted to enable children from around the world to study with it. His hope was that as many students as possible would be able to boost their academic skills, be successful in life, and help to build a peaceful world as a result of their study with the Kumon Method.
1974: first steps of overseas expansion
First overseas Kumon Study Centre opened in New York, USA
Kumon's overseas expansion began in 1974 with the opening of a Kumon Maths Study Centre in New York. A Japanese family whose children had been studying at Kumon in Japan, moved to the United States when the father's job was transferred; they requested that Kumon be made available to students who move abroad and thus the first overseas study centre came to be.
Taiwan, Brazil, Germany: Kumon students increase around the world
Just as above, Kumon Study Centres continued to be opened in answer to demand, and in the 1970’s centres were opened in Taiwan, Brazil and Germany for Japanese students overseas. The local communities in those areas came to view the effectiveness of these Kumon Study Centres highly. As a result, local children also began to attend Kumon. In time, individuals from those local communities opened their own Kumon Study Centres. In this way the Kumon Method put down roots in these regions and countries.
In order to serve children in these communities the Kumon maths learning materials were translated into local languages. In addition, local companies were set up in these overseas areas and a support system for local centres was established. In Taiwan the number of Kumon students reached 1,000 in 1979, and the same number of students was reached in Brazil in 1982. In 1983, nine years after the opening of Kumon’s first centre in New York, the number of Kumon students outside of Japan exceeded 10,000.
1985: increasing numbers of Kumon students around the world
The Miracle of Sumiton
In 1988, an elementary school vice principal in Sumiton, Alabama, USA, developed an interest in Kumon after seeing a TV report about the Kumon Method. She requested the Kumon Method was delivered to the students in her school as a regular subject*.
The results of this Kumon study were impressive; students' scores had dramatically improved. The dramatic improvements at Sumiton captured attention all over the United States and were hailed as the “Miracle of Sumiton” in a variety of media. This reporting had a great impact on public perception in the United States; in 1989, Newsweek magazine featured an article describing how the Kumon Method was being used at Sumiton Elementary School. This led to a tremendous number of enquiries from all around the United States. The following year TIME magazine also carried an article about Kumon, which led to a great number of enquiries from around the world.
*not being implemented at the present time
The Kumon Method: expanding globally and taking root in local communities
The article in TIME magazine, together with other media reports, led to a growing interest in the Kumon Method around the world. More and more requests to open centres were received. We rapidly responded to these requests with the policy of encouraging the opening of local Kumon Study Centres operated by local Kumon Instructors.
Toru Kumon believed that the Kumon Method could be used to pursue the potential of students not only in maths but also in language subjects. Therefore, he directed the creation of learning materials for speakers of English that would develop students’ reading comprehension ability. Use of these learning materials began in Australia in 1990. Thereafter, learning materials were developed in such languages as Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.
The number of Kumon enrolments, which had exceeded two million in 1993, then exceeded three million in 2001, and four million in 2006*.
*worldwide number of enrolments
Native language worksheets studied in various countries
English language learning materials for native speakers are presently being used in 23 countries and regions. Chinese language learning materials for native speakers are presently being used in six countries and regions. Spanish language learning materials for native speakers are presently being used in seven countries.
2009: Kumon as a global brand as we begin the next 50 years of our history
Offering better forums for the Kumon Method of Learning
Although there may be differences between countries and regions, differences in cultures and customs, and differences in values and educational systems, children's desire to study and the feelings of parents toward their children are the same all over the world. Today, children around the globe are gaining high-level academic skills and learning to be proactive in their lives thanks to their study with the Kumon Method.
In 2000, Kumon instituted a group management structure. At that time, each regional headquarters increased their efforts to promote and support the Kumon Method and help it to take root in local communities.
2008 marked Kumon's 50th anniversary; this was a year in which we reaffirmed our vision of Kumon’s future. We pledged to continuously improve the ways in which the Kumon Method is offered and to contribute to local communities through our activities.
2014: Instructors around the world learn from children in order to further improve their instruction
Centenary of the birth of company founder Toru Kumon
On 16 March 2014 the Toru Kumon Centenary Celebration was held in Japan. Over 7,500 Kumon Instructors, staff, and guests from all over the world attended the event.
The theme of the event was “dreams” and it began with attendees reaffirming the dreams expressed by founder Toru Kumon. In the latter half of the event Instructors and staff emphasised the importance of learning from children and seven Instructors from different regions of the world gave presentations.
Toru Kumon expressed his philosophy of pursuing the potential of each and every student in the following phrase: “There is never ‘good enough,’ there must always be ‘something better.'” All of us associated with Kumon will keep these words in mind as we strive to bring the Kumon Method to as many children as possible, regardless of how old they are or where in the world they live.