By Dr. Guadalupe Ramiso, Mother of Gabrielle, Raphael, Mikhaela, and Sabrelle of Kumon San Francisco (Pagadian) Center
As a parent, education is one of the best gifts and investments that I could give to my children. So when we relocated to Zamboanga del Sur (because my husband is from the area), I was afraid that my kids were not getting the best education in Pagadian. This was the typical thinking of someone who grew up in a big city (since I am from Manila). Also, I was able to witness firsthand how students from the provinces encountered so many difficulties, and I thought that my kids would turn out the same. Although I’ve learned now that this fear was baseless, at that time, that was my main concern.
I’ve heard about Kumon from my friends in Manila. They always talk about how it improved their kids’ academic abilities. When my kids started their elementary education, there was no Kumon Center in our area. I was thinking of enrolling them in the nearest Center, but that was a 2 ½ hour’s drive from our place. So, imagine my delight when Teacher Aileen Hidalgo opened a Kumon Center in Pagadian way back in 2010. I immediately enrolled my two eldest kids, and they became part of the pioneering batch. I initially enrolled them in Math and then in both subjects when Reading was offered a year later.
Growth and Development
Even before my kids were enrolled in Kumon, they were already doing well academically. However, upon experiencing the method, they advanced very fast. They knew their lessons in math well before they encountered these topics in school. As a result, they got higher grades and won often in math competitions. They also excelled in journalism, as the Reading Program helped boost their vocabulary and writing techniques.
I would like to believe that Kumon had also helped them prepare better for the science high school entrance exams. They passed with flying colors. They were already Math and Reading Completers before they went to high school, so they didn’t find their math and English subjects too difficult. Since they didn’t spend too much time studying Math, they were able to spare more time to study other subjects. As I often told my children’s instructors, Kumon had brought out the best in my kids.
Challenges and Solutions
However, just like the others, my children encountered so many problems when doing Kumon. Foremost was how to juggle the worksheets, academics, and extra-curricular activities. Whenever they had school assignments, drama practice, or school projects, they got too tired to go to the Center – not to mention the difficulty they experienced when they were doing advanced topics! There was even one time that my son got so frustrated that he crumpled his worksheets and threw them away (he picked them up later and tried to put them into a semblance of order).
Good thing, though, that I am a disciplinarian and my children listen to me whenever I tell them to do something. I taught them the value of good education, and how they can get 100% value in Kumon. Whenever they became lazy and bored, I reminded them that not all children get to experience Kumon, so they need to maximize everything that they could get from it. During periodical exams and long tests, I tell them to lessen their worksheet load, but to try and increase it once their schedule becomes easier to manage.
Kumon was an additional workload for my kids, that’s a fact. But I always told them they would reap the profit a hundredfold. Whenever my youngest would cry over the worksheets, I just let her be, because I knew it would pass. I helped them adjust their schedules to fit their school activities. Whenever we went on vacations, their Kumon bags were also brought with them. My kids’ lives revolved around school, co-curricular, extra-curricular activities, and Kumon. The latter was never taken for granted and was very much entrenched in our daily activities.
From One Parent to Another
I have bigger plans for my kids, and I know that Kumon would help them achieve these goals. I firmly believe that although Kumon is a long process, we would get there eventually if we only persevere.
My greatest learning as a Kumon parent is that every child is different in their skills and capacity for learning. I have four children, and three already completed the Math and Reading Programs. My youngest is still enrolled in the Center, and is also doing both subjects. All of them have different personalities and different abilities. My struggle was not to expect one to be the same as the other, and to deal with each child differently (and honestly, I am still working on this part).
To other Kumon parents, think of Kumon as a long process that will help your child in the future. If you are only thinking of passing the Math quiz tomorrow, or just making your child learn how to read sentences, then Kumon is not the answer. It is not a tutorial – it is a way of life, with learnings that happen at a different pace for each child. Never let them stop once they have started with Kumon, and never give up on your children.