What are the negative effects of Kumon pre-emptive learning Don't overestimate pre-emptive learning and use the benefits correctly.


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When children are taught Kumon from a young age, they are surprisingly able to learn more and more content ahead of the current school year. Parents can feel proud when their children are learning the content of junior and senior high school from primary schools.

However, in some cases, children may take this to heart and disregard school lessons or look down on their classmates. This is naturally undesirable, and can lead to sluggish growth as the school year progresses.

In this article, we will explain the exact current position of a child who is ahead of his or her Kumon peers and the perceptions you want to share with your child.

Kumon provides a high level of foundation

The first assumption is that Kumon can acquire the basics at a high level.

In Kumon, the basic reading and calculation skills are thoroughly repeated. If you cannot answer most of the questions correctly within a set time, you will not be able to move on to the next content.

Reading and calculation may sound like a low-level subject, but reading and calculation in Kumon also includes content such as ancient Chinese literature and differential and integral calculus. Kumon is not only about understanding these things, but also about being able to do them quickly and accurately.

Children who can learn ahead of time with Kumon are excellent, but they are not geniuses.

So, how good is the group of people who are able to learn ahead of their peers with Kumon?

Roughly speaking, the correct perception is that they are "just about able".

In Kumon, the basics are repeated. You look at examples and keep solving problems with similar patterns, so if you can understand the examples, you can eventually move on. After a few years of Kumon, there are many children who can move ahead by about three grades.

The reason they are able to move ahead with Kumon is that they are able to understand the examples and their patterns, and that they are able to do a large amount of repetition. There is no doubt that children who can do these things are excellent, but they are still short of being geniuses. This does not mean that geniuses are not doing Kumon, but rather that just because they are learning ahead of Kumon does not mean they are geniuses.

However, there are reasons to mistakenly believe that being ahead of Kumon is genius.

Being ahead in learning is not the same as being smart.

If a primary school student solves a differential and integral calculus problem, everyone thinks that the child is a genius. However, there is both breadth and depth in learning progression. If you do Kumon, you get the breadth of the learning range up to the next grade, but you don't go deeper into each area than the basics.

And beyond a certain level, there is a world where it is taken for granted that the basics are solid. People who have holes in the basics are not at that level, and from there onwards, it becomes important to know how deep you can think.

There is no doubt that it is a great thing to be able to step into that world. In reality, there are probably fewer people who have a solid foundation before taking an entrance exam. However, this is because they have worked hard at their studies, and it is their efforts, not their talent, that should be praised.

Enthusiasm for study can easily make a difference when you are young

Another area where misunderstandings can easily arise is when children are still at a lower grade level.

I said earlier that at the upper levels, no one has a solid foundation. However, in the early years of primary school, there are very few people who are passionate about consolidating the basics. Even children with a genius mind may not yet be that focused on their studies or only interested in what they like to do at this stage.

So if they are early in the school year, they can be in a position where they can be described as geniuses simply by consolidating the basics with Kumon. However, the foundations that they have laid down in Kumon are the ones that everyone will eventually learn in that school year. If you only have a head start in Kumon, you will eventually catch up with, or be overtaken by, those around you. And being overtaken more and more can be a very tough experience for a child.

Completing Kumon's primary schools range before taking the junior high school entrance exam does not directly lead to success in difficult junior high schools.

When these aspects are misunderstood, the most adverse effects are likely to occur in the junior high school entrance examinations.

Pre-emptive learning is not an advantage in the junior high school entrance examinations

Studying ahead of the scope of junior high school or high school is hardly an advantage in the junior high school entrance examinations. This is because the scope of the examination is outside of the scope of the study that you are studying ahead of time. The key points in the junior high school entrance exam are how deeply the student has learnt the scope of the primary schools and how well he or she can cope with questions unique to the junior high school exam.

Therefore, children enter cram school with a high level of confidence in areas unrelated to the junior high school entrance examination. Because they have already mastered the basics of the subjects studied in the upper grades, they will have an advantage for a while and their relative ranking will improve. However, they will not realise their lack of ability until they have studied the same subjects at cram school and have built up the same foundations as their peers. The delay in getting serious can be fatal in the entrance examinations.

Study areas not covered by Kumon

Kumon's English, mathematics and Japanese courses do not cover all the areas necessary for the junior high school entrance examination. Kumon does not cover English vocabulary, English grammar and kanji, and when it comes to mathematics, Kumon does not deal with graphic problems at all.

Kumon probably does not intend to prepare students for the junior high school entrance examination. The merit of Kumon is that the fundamentals are firmly acquired, but naturally the fields that are not covered are not acquired. If you cut it out at the point of taking the junior high school entrance exam, Kumon will not help you acquire the ability to apply and there will be holes in the basics.

Kumon does not acquire the thinking ability and sense required for applied problems

In junior high school examinations, there are many situations in which thinking ability and sense are tested. This is because the scope of the basics is narrower than in high school or university examinations.

Kumon materials tend to be more about familiarisation than learning, and you don't have to sweat your brains out to tackle a single difficult question. It is similar to the fact that muscle training does not improve athleticism.

Kumon's true value is demonstrated in university entrance examinations

If you look at it this far, you will not be able to see the benefits of Kumon. This is because we are talking on the premise of taking the junior high school entrance examination.

Kumon's true value is demonstrated in university entrance examinations.

In the university entrance examinations, the scope of study is wider and the level of difficulty in consolidating the basics increases dramatically compared to junior high school and high school. Therefore, if you have a solid foundation, you will be able to reach a level that you can aim for, with the exception of the Tokyo Metropolitan University (Tokyo Ichigyo) and medical schools. There was a time when, if you could get 90% on the first examination, which consisted mostly of basic questions, you could enter some faculties of Waseda-Keio without having to take the second examination.

The relative increase in the importance of the basics means that there are not many universities where the ability to think and sense are tested.

In addition, the Kumon curriculum covers the entire range of mathematics in the high school process. As might be expected, Kumon alone is not enough to cover English vocabulary, English grammar and kanji, but even so, the scope of what you learn in Kumon is much wider.

How to make use of the leeway gained from Kumon

The most important fact to note is that Kumon has the potential to finish most of the basics of English, mathematics and Japanese for university entrance examinations in elementary and junior high school.

The wide range of questions means that the amount of learning can easily become a bottleneck. It is not an easy task just to consolidate the basics of all subjects after starting to study for an entrance examination in earnest. However, English, mathematics and Japanese are subjects that are difficult to neglect, whether in the humanities or sciences, and they are also subjects that tend to take a long time to develop.

If you can finish the final material in Kumon, you can greatly reduce the amount of resources you have to devote to English, mathematics and Japanese when you start studying for the examinations in earnest. What you do with these freed-up resources is the key to Kumon's pre-emptive learning.

The worst thing to do is to proceed with Kumon half-heartedly and get on with it.

The worst thing that can happen then is to get carried away with Kumon's pre-emptive learning. The merit of Kumon is that by laying the foundations early on, you can spend more time on other subjects and take on the challenge of applied problems. It is meaningless if you are satisfied with the position you have achieved, even though you have laid the foundations early on.

What you learn in Kumon is not what others cannot do, but what everyone will eventually be able to do. If parents are aware of this correctly, they will not be buoyed by Kumon's preoccupation with learning ahead of time. Instead, they will be more aware of what they should have their children do in their spare time. Or, at their age, the time may have come for the child to decide for themselves what they want to do.

It is the parent's responsibility to properly inform the child about the benefits of Kumon

Kumon's pre-emptive learning has various implications as explained so far. What children learn in Kumon is the fundamentals, and pre-emptive learning by itself may not be as much of an advantage as people around you might say. In particular, the skills acquired in Kumon are not useful for junior high school entrance examinations, while the fundamentals acquired in university entrance examinations can be of great significance.

However, children may not realise this until much later. At the age of primary school children, it is natural for them to think that they are geniuses, learning far ahead of their peers. They will also be cheered on by the people around them in many situations. There may be situations where they waste the extra time they have gained from Kumon due to pride, or are shocked when they realise the difference between themselves and the really smart people around them.

Not only in studies, but primary schools children do not yet have a broad view of things. They may think they are great just because their parents are rich, or they may think it is cool not to be serious. Eventually, they will grow up and realise that such thinking is biased. The later they realise this, the greater the negative impact it will have on their lives.

That is why parents need to have the right awareness and tell their children about the benefits of Kumon. If they do so, there will always come a time when they realise the benefits of Kumon.