By Atty. Sittie Raifah Pamaloy-Hassan of Iligan (Learning) Center
Parents in all sectors are united in wanting the best for their children. As parents, even during the trying moments in our lives, we still prioritize their needs. As a human rights worker, I feel that I have to fulfill my children’s right – which is their right to education.
I was made aware of Kumon through social media when our friends and colleagues would often post their children’s achievements with pride – being excellent in math or joining international math competitions. Out of curiosity, my husband, Fahad, and I searched about Kumon in Google. We wanted to know more about the method and study the benefits it may provide for our children.
Early on, I already believed that sending my twins, Abdul Rahim and Abdul Rahman, to Kumon meant giving them the best. As a busy working mother and a competitive person, I was not able to introduce to them anything about alphabets or numbers so I felt that my twins were way behind. Thus, I gave Kumon a try.
We enrolled Abdul Rahim and Abdul Rahman in Kumon last April 2017, a few weeks before the Marawi siege happened, and just a few weeks after I gave birth to my youngest son. I thought that the timing was so wrong since evacuating and being displaced for a year due to the Marawi siege was a trial we could never forget.
During the siege, we evacuated along with hundreds of thousands of other residents in the city. Same with other Internally Displaced Persons, we just brought a few things thinking that the conflict would only last for a couple of days.
My husband had shown me how Kumon was special to him that time. He placed inside his bag pack his pair of shorts and shirt, and the worksheets of the twins as if those were essential documents, leaving behind our marriage certificate, birth certificates, school records and other important papers.
The struggle was really real at that time. I was battling a postnatal depression after giving birth. We were displaced, sleeping every night not sure of tomorrow; but one thing remained normal, the twins were still doing their worksheets and continuing with Kumon even if it meant transferring to the Kumon Center in Cagayan de Oro for two months, the city where we sought refuge.
Kumon Time as Family Time
At the beginning of their Kumon journey, Abdul Rahim and Abdul Rahman started Kumon not having any idea of numbers, shapes, and letters. They began with tracing numbers and letters, and familiarizing some Math number sequences and English words. As parents, we were required to be with our children every single day while they were doing their worksheets. As a working mother, this tested my patience, discipline, and time management. We started from scratch and we tried implementing different strategies while determining the proper Kumon time. I assigned my husband in Math, while I assigned myself in Reading. My children and husband spent the morning for Math and transitioned to Reading with me in the evening.
As days and weeks passed by, it was getting harder and harder. They complained that they do not know the worksheets given and they needed me to be there. I always reminded them that those worksheets were theirs and I cannot answer them. I kept telling them to answer it with confidence. However, they still insisted on my presence and, sometimes, I ended up guiding them until they got it right. Consequently, there were assignments left unanswered since my work required more official travels. Admittedly, my husband and I had some petty fights over the worksheets.
The difficulties I felt during those trying times made me want to quit. Yes, I wanted my children to quit. But every time I informed them of it, they would cry convincing me that they would do better. I am not a quitter myself, but I admit that the worksheets are laborious.
Continuing with Determination
Everything changed when, one day, I picked up a small piece of paper in our room. What was written awakened me! It stated “GO FOR THE GOLD.” If my children are aiming for it and thinking that they could achieve it, then who am I to prevent them from going for it? The eagerness and determination in their faces provided me strength to move forward.
After getting through numerous worksheets, the whole concept of Kumon started to sink. Abdum Rahim and Abdul Rahman started working independently. They are now solving math problems and completing reading worksheets on their own. Every time they perfectly answer the worksheets, I sense the confidence, the motivation and the desire to achieve more. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that our twins, who just turned six years old, would be able to do division and read books fluently. Indeed, nothing is impossible with hard work and the spirit of willingness – attitudes they have learned from Kumon.
Entrusting my kids to Kumon for more than two years is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The program has shaped my twins into children every parent wants – disciplined, respectful and warriors. They have become goal and go getters. They were trained by Kumon to manage their time, and set their targets.
Seeing Life with Kumon
We realized that Kumon does not work on the kids only. It even had an effect on us, the parents. We became partners in inculcating in our kids that failures and mistakes are an inevitable part of life and that we need those to succeed. In fact, Kumon molded me into the kind of mother that I am now.
Based on my experience, there was a misconception that Kumon will do everything. My journey made me realize that it is actually a trilateral venture. Quoting Teacher Grace Quijano, it takes a village to train a child. All parties play a vital role in the success of the child. Kumon parents shall not only supervise but be an alarm clock in reminding their children of their talents, capacities, and dreams. Undeniably, it will be a bittersweet trip. The process may not be that smooth, but the end result will be most cherished. To reiterate, joining Kumon is the wisest decision my husband and I have ever made as parents.