The Kumon Method is aimed at building up the basic academic skills of reading, writing, and math regardless of a student’s age. It is an individualized study method that enables students to become self-learners.
The foundation of Kumon is the development of basic academic skills.
The positive results of study with the Kumon Method have been recognized.
Therefore, the Kumon Method has been welcomed into communities around the world with widely differing cultures, values, and educational systems
A list made by Toru Kumon in 1962 stating the objectives he hoped to achieve in the future. Written not long after the company was founded, it is noteworthy that Toru Kumon already aspired to the introduction of Kumon Method study overseas.
Toru Kumon wrote out calculation problems on loose-leaf paper for his son, Takeshi, and those materials became the prototype for today’s Kumon Method worksheets. With the desire to “help as many children as possible fulfill their potential,” company founder, Toru Kumon, established the Osaka Institute of Mathematics in 1958 in Osaka City. From this point onward, Kumon began providing the opportunity to study to more and more children.
From the start, Toru Kumon strongly believed that the Kumon Method was applicable worldwide and he wanted to enable children from around the world to study with it. His hope was that as many students as possible would be able to boost their academic skills, be successful in life, and help to build a peaceful world as a result of their study with the Kumon Method.
Overseas expansion of Kumon began in 1974 with the opening of a Kumon Math Center in New York, USA.
In this case, a Japanese family with children who had been studying at Kumon in Japan moved to the United States due to the father’s job transfer. They requested that Kumon be made available to students who move abroad. In order to meet the needs of such students and parents the first overseas Kumon Math Center was opened in New York, USA.
Toru Kumon planting a tree in commemoration of the opening of the Kumon South America head office building in August 1994.
Just as in the above case of the Japanese family moving to New York, Kumon Centers continued to be opened in answer to demand from the public in the 1970’s in Taiwan, Brazil, and Germany for Japanese students overseas. The local communities in those areas evaluated the learning effectiveness of the Kumon Centers highly. As a result, local children also began to attend Kumon. In time, individuals from those local communities opened their own Kumon Centers. In this way the Kumon Method put down roots in these regions and countries.
In order to serve children in these communities, the Kumon arithmetic and math learning materials were translated into local languages. In addition, local companies were set up in these overseas areas and a support system for local Centers was established. In Taiwan, the number of Kumon students reached 1,000 in 1979, and the same number of students was reached in Brazil in 1982. In 1983, nine years after the opening of Kumon’s first Center in New York, the number of Kumon students outside of Japan exceeded 10,000.
In 1988, an elementary school vice principal in Sumiton, Alabama, USA became very interested in Kumon after seeing a TV report about the Kumon Method. She asked Kumon to provide the Kumon Method to the students in her school. Subsequent to this request, Kumon was introduced to Sumiton Elementary School as a regular subject*.
The results of Kumon study were impressive. Students raised their scores in the Kumon Diagnostic Test from 70 points to 90 points. The dramatic improvements at Sumiton captured attention all over the United States and were hailed as the “Miracle of Sumiton” in a variety of media. This reporting had a great impact on public perception of Kumon in the United States.
In 1989, Newsweek magazine featured an article describing how the Kumon Method was being used at Sumiton Elementary School. This led to a tremendous number of inquiries from all around the United States. The following year, in 1990, TIME magazine also carried an article about Kumon, which led to a great number of inquiries from around the world.
*not being implemented at the present time
The article in TIME magazine, together with other media reports, led to a growing interest in the Kumon Method around the world. More and more requests to open Centers were received by Kumon. We rapidly responded to these requests with the policy of encouraging the opening of local Kumon Centers operated by local Kumon Instructors.
Toru Kumon believed that the Kumon Method could be used to pursue the potential of students not only in math but also in language subjects. Therefore, he directed the creation of learning materials for speakers of English that would develop students’ reading comprehension ability. Use of these learning materials began in Australia in 1990. Thereafter, learning materials were developed in such languages as Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.
In 1980, English materials for non-native speakers were developed for use in Japan. Those materials were then further developed for use in other countries, beginning with Brazil in 2004.
The number of Kumon enrollments, which had exceeded two million in 1993, then exceeded three million in 2001, and four million in 2006*.
*worldwide number of enrollments including Japan
Although there may be differences between countries and regions, differences in cultures and customs, and differences in values and educational systems, children’s desire to study and the feelings of parents toward their children are the same all over the world. Today, children around the globe are gaining high-level academic skills and learning to be proactive in their lives thanks to their study with the Kumon Method.
In 2000, Kumon instituted a group management structure. At that time, each regional headquarters increased their efforts to promote and support the Kumon Method and help it to take root in local communities.
The year 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of Kumon. This was a year in which we reaffirmed our vision of Kumon’s future course. We pledged to continuously improve the ways in which the Kumon Method is offered and to contribute to local communities through our activities.
On 16 March 2014 the Toru Kumon Centenary Celebration was held in Japan. Over 7,500 Kumon Instructors, staff and guests from all over the world attended the event.
The theme of the Toru Kumon Centenary Celebration was “dreams.” The event started with attendees reaffirming the dreams expressed by founder Toru Kumon. In the latter half of the event Instructors and staff emphasized the importance of learning from children. Seven Instructors from different regions of the world gave presentations one after the other.
Toru Kumon expressed his philosophy of pursuing the potential of each and every student in the following phrase, “There is never ‘good enough,’ there must always be ‘something better.’” All of us associated with Kumon will constantly keep these words in mind as we strive to bring the Kumon Method to as many people as possible, regardless of how old they are or where in the world they live.
The year 2018 marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of Kumon. The 60th Anniversary Ceremony was held in Japan on 11 February 2019 and was attended by more than 7,500 Kumon Instructors, staff members, stakeholders, and guests related to Kumon from Japan and overseas. It was an opportunity to look back on the history of 60 years and to confirm the direction of the future.
We sincerely thank everyone for celebrating our 60th anniversary and we will continue to pursue the potential of children and all learners.