Identifying Children's Strengths and Encouraging Them Together with Parents
While parents often complain about their children’s shortcomings, I will point out the strengths I find in children that may not be seen in mainstream society, such as being resilient, quiet and strong, having their own goals, and having the ability to think independently. A child who doesn’t like to talk may like to think deeply, and a child who doesn’t like to please teachers may be very honest and straightforward. I want parents to find the good in their children and encourage them in what they say and do.
I will observe the child’s behaviour in the centre and if I find any problems, I will talk to the parents in detail to find out more about how the parents interact with the child in their family and guide them to change their ways of dealing with the child through day-to-day communication.
For example, in my classroom, there is a child who has been reported by both teachers and parents to be too sensitive, a crybaby and the slowest maths student in the class. The child’s parents are both engineers who bring their emotions from work into the home and do not pay much attention to the way they communicate with their child. When a sensitive child receives these messages, he or she can be very emotional. I later told her mother that your child is very sensitive and that she gets nervous when teachers at school criticise other children and when other children work faster on problems. I suggested to the mother that she should change the way she communicates with her child and not to lose her temper with her. After a month, the mother told me that after changing her communication style, the child was able to work faster on the problems.
Emphasis on Children Thinking and Learning on Their Own
I place great importance on developing my students’ ability to learn on their own, and this is particularly obvious in Kumon Maths, especially when they are learning something new in class, and they have to do this against all obstacles. It may normally take only 20 minutes, but this time it takes 40 minutes, but there is time for the child to think and to observe how he/she faces difficulties. As a instructor, I need to give children confidence and methods. I will use methods to guide children and believe that they will be able to figure it out on their own, and give them time to think on their own.
In addition, I pay more attention to children’s cognitive psychology and personality characteristics. For example, when a child moves from addition 1 to addition 2 or 3, the learning time is very long and far exceeding the parents’ expectation. Parents may wonder, “Why do they forget after learning for so long? In fact, this covers a very important point, which is the child’s learning cognition, that is, when the child learns something new, he or she will slightly inhibit what he or she has learned before. This means that when a child learns to addition 3, he or she will be most familiar with it and will forget to addition 1 or 2. When the child learns to addition 3, I expect that s/he will forget the previous addition 1 and 2 and that it will take some time for s/he to remember. And I make sure that parents understand this well.
Kumon is a Team, I'm Not Fighting Alone
Before becoming a Kumon instructor, I attended a very structured training and also went to other Kumon centres for practice. Seeing children learning Kumon, watching parents waiting for their children outside the classroom, and hearing the instructor communicate with parents… What I saw during my placement was what I heard during the training, and it made me look forward to becoming a Kumon instructor.
I have always felt that Kumon is not a one-man battle, but a team battle, including various instructor training and seminars that would give me some inspiration. Sometimes a problem that was bothering me would suddenly be solved by the words of one of the instructors during the training, and then I would think about how to apply it to my students.
In addition, I learnt a lot from the KCNIC (Kumon China Instructors Conference), where instructors came from all over the world, some of whom had been involved in Kumon for over 20 years. It was a great confidence booster for me to see such a large Kumon team. I also hope to have the opportunity to see more overseas instructors in the future.