The life and work of the man behind Kumon

Millions of children worldwide and thousands of children in the Philippines can quickly and accurately solve math problems without finger counting. Some of these students can also decipher complex texts and think critically. Many of them can also work independently and study enthusiastically.  

Perhaps, what they have in common is that they are Kumon students or Kumon Completers trained through the Kumon Method of Learning. But how did Kumon begin? And who is the man behind Kumon? 

Know the life and work of Mr. Toru Kumon, the man behind Kumon.

The story of this world-renowned learning method all began with Toru Kumon. He was from a humble family in Kōchi Prefecture, Japan. He took up mathematics at the College of Science of Osaka University. Following the course of his degree, he became a high school mathematics educator in his hometown. But what sets Toru Kumon apart is his love for learning and belief that each person has a potential yet to be discovered.  

His life as an educator stemmed outside of the four walls of the classroom and into their home when his wife, Teiko, found the math test paper of their son, Takeshi. As the test results were not good, his wife asked how they could help their son bounce back. 

“There is never good enough. There must always be something better–there is no progress when we think: “This is good enough.” Even if you currently do not have confidence in yourself, you should have confidence in the YOU of tomorrow, believing you will be able to instruct better tomorrow by continuing to learn today.” 

Carrying with him his experience as an educator and enthusiasm for learning, Toru began writing math problems on loose-leaf papers for his son to answer on his own after class. With much love for his son, he would check Takeshi’s answers after coming home and having family dinner, mark them, and return them to him if any mistakes needed to be corrected.  

As they continued with this routine, Takeshi quickly developed his skills in Math by answering the worksheets created by his father for 30 minutes every day. As days passed, the younger Kumon didn’t only excel in math and gained good study habits–he could answer math problems beyond his school grade level. Before reaching sixth grade, Takeshi could already solve differential and integral calculus. 

When Mr. Kumon saw the impressive changes in his son’s academic ability, he invited some children from their neighborhood to study the same way Takeshi did. By his side, his son also assisted the children in their community.  

Learning through the method consistently, the children also improved their academic skills and ability to study independently. With this positive development, Mr. Kumon dreamed of sharing this with as many children as possible. He firmly believed it’s possible to bring out the unlimited potential of children by providing suitable learning materials.  

“Children are born with unlimited potential. Every child can excel by developing their ability through study at the just-right level. That is why I say, “Give it a try, or you will never discover your true potential.” 

He did put his dreams into action. In 1958, he established an office in Osaka and opened more Math Centers to help many children. 

From a humble family home in Osaka, Kumon has now gone global. By helping his son and the children in their community, Mr. Toru Kumon developed many children’s academic abilities and life skills worldwide. 

Currently, the Philippines is one of these countries where Kumon is present. It opened on August 15, 1996. For the past 25 years, Kumon has opened over 300 Centers to reach thousands of Filipino children in every community. His story, life, and work now live on through the thousands of Filipino children achieving great things in life.


Kumon is the world's leading after-school enrichment program. We offer two subjects: Math and Reading in more than 300 Kumon Centers nationwide.

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