Enrichment program accepting more students
Kumon, an after-school math and reading academic enrichment program, has been running locally through sponsorship from the Kenora-Rainy River Child and Family Services for more than a year and now is ready to accept more students.
“It began primarily for children in care but we see a need to expand to the community,” said Lynda Moncrief, a Kumon instructor based in Kenora who helps run the program here.
Moncrief said Kumon has run for 12 years in Kenora. After the amalgamation of the districts’ Child and Family Services, the program was brought here in November, 2011.
“We’ve seen tremendous success,” she enthused, citing two students who not only reached their grade level but have exceeded it.
Moncrief said Kumon offers a personalized approach to helping children learn math and reading concepts based on their ability rather than their age or grade.
“The biggest benefit is that it is a confidence-booster,” she explained. “They learn at their own pace and their own level. . . .
“They start at a comfortable starting point to ensure they have a positive outlook about learning.”
Moncrief added the student is unaware of what level they are working at, which allows them to focus on comprehending the new material fully before moving ahead.
“Teachers have to move forward but we don’t,” she noted.
The program places an emphasis on self-learning, with each exercise building on previously-mastered concepts.
There are no teachers at Kumon and it is not a tutoring service. Rather, Moncrief said the assistants simply help guide the student.
“We’re fortunate to have three retired teachers as assistants,” she remarked, noting they are aware of challenges and special needs.
And Kumon is available to students from pre-school to university-aged. “They learn everything from numbers to essay writing and algebra,” Moncrief said.
The program is ideal for children who want to be challenged, as well as for those who need a little help catching up.
Students attend one session a week after school for about two hours, but they do exercises in their workbooks at home throughout the week.
“It works only because of the parents and foster parents,” Moncrief stressed. “They have to follow through at home in order to see success. . . .
“It’s not just about the child. It’s a commitment for the entire family.”
Moncrief said the students spend about 20-30 minutes a day on their Kumon exercises. Then they bring the work back each week and the assistants assess their progress.
“They move on only when they have fully grasped a concept,” she reiterated, noting some don’t retain the information as well and require more repetition.
“We don’t push them forward,” Moncrief said. “They are capable of the work, but sometimes they lack confidence and they leave here very proud of themselves.”
She added school teachers have indicated students in Kumon focus better in class and the improvement in their school work is evident.
Local parents and caregivers also can see the benefits of the program.
“Progress has been steady and the academic gains impressive,” noted one person with several grandchildren enrolled in Kumon.
“This program has helped to improve their skills and build confidence with their reading and math at school,” he said.
“This improvement is reflected on their achievement reports from school and from teachers’ comments on the children’s ability to complete academic tasks more successfully and independently.”
He added the assistants are “positive, professional, and able to motivate and encourage the children to be successful.”
“Six months later, [my son] has improved 10 reading levels by the board of education testing,” wrote one mother, adding that “Kumon is amazing” and “well worth it.”
One of the assistants, a retired teacher, would recommend Kumon to students who are falling further and further behind in their regular classrooms.
“I know it is not the fault of the teachers because in most cases they are doing their best,” he indicated.
“The regular system, however, just doesn’t seem to meet the needs of certain students,” he noted. “Kumon is the system that can and does help these kids.
“The success of the students and their progress in their regular classrooms is proof that the Kumon system works,” he added.
Kumon runs year-round at the Child and Family Services building in Fort Frances each Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
“This allows students more time to continue to catch up and to retain everything they have learned,” Moncrief explained.
She said if the need is particularly great, they even would look to relocate to a larger space to accommodate more students.
Those interested can contact Moncrief to set up a time for a placement test, which is free of charge.
“The placement test just tells me where the child is academically,” Moncrief noted, saying she then would discuss the program with the parent or caregiver, who would determine if they’d like to enroll their child.
While free for those in care, members of the general public pay $120 per month, per subject (either math or reading), per child.
“The core subjects of math and reading are essential,” Moncrief stressed. “You need to build that solid foundation because it branches out into everything.”
Currently, there are 125 students enrolled in Kumon in the Kenora, Dryden, and Fort Frances areas while 16 million have been involved in Kumon worldwide since it was founded in 1954.
For more information, visit www.kumon.ca or contact Moncrief at 1-807-548-1571.