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A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

Masanobu Endo
Therefore, in the Kumon Method, pursuing the
just-right level of study is the Instructors essential
job in order to nurture childrens ability. The justright level of study is also mentioned in Chapter 6 in
Understanding the Principles of Kumon Instruction:
Math, and Chapter 7 of the UPI: Reading. The points
of the chapters are as follows:

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INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT

Toru Kumons Just-Right


Level of Study

n The Strengths of the Kumon Method, Mr. Toru


Kumon emphasized the importance of the justright level of study as follows.

In order to help children learn, they


should be given material at a level that is
just-right for their ability. The reason
children come to dislike studying is
because they are given material that
is not at the just-right level for their
academic ability. When you give children
material that is just-right for them, they
enjoy studying. They will then be able to
advance beyond their school grade level.
Children are not given material at the
just-right level in conventional school
classes. Children should be given the
opportunity to learn at the just-right
level at the appropriate time.
(The Strengths of the Kumon Method, no. 1)

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In order to ascertain the just-right level of a


students ability, it is important to consider the
just-right level of understanding (the highest
point where they can grasp the material), the justright level of work skills (the point where they
can do the work easily), and the just-right level
for developing a good attitude toward studying.
(The Strengths of the Kumon Method, no. 7)

The just-right level of work skills can be thought


of as the level at which students can complete their
work comfortably within the Standard Completion
Time. The just-right level of understanding can be
regarded as the level at which students are able to
understand the content even if it takes them quite
a while to complete the worksheets.
The just-right level for developing a good
attitude toward studying enables students to:
Have clear progress goals and the desire to
achieve them.
Be serious about and highly motivated in their
studies and able to pursue them proactively.
Be enthusiastic about continuing to self-learn
even after having difficulties.
I have compiled Mr. Toru Kumons words on the
just-right level of study from his various lectures.
Keeping the above basic points of the just-right
level of study in your mind, please enjoy Mr. Kumons
words. Through his words, I hope that your thoughts
about the just-right level of study are deepened.

STUDENTS NEED THE JUSTRIGHT LEVEL OF WORK


SKILLS AT THE TIME OF
ENROLLMENT
The just-right level includes
the just-right level of work
skills and the just-right level
of understanding. Now lets think
of the just-right level of work
skills. For example, a junior high
school student who does not
study so much may start his study
from multiplication and division
instead of fractions. An Instructor
may have him start even addition
instead of multiplication or
division. Why does the Instructor
need to do this?
You may think that, only from
an understanding standpoint,
the student can start Level E
because he is a junior high school
student. I am saying it only from
an understanding standpoint.
However, if you try to start him
at Level E, what do you think will
happen? He is a junior high school
student who has not studied hard
before, so of course he does not
have work skills at all. Every
student needs the balance of work
skills and understanding. A junior
high school student needs enough
work skills to study Kumon
worksheets, otherwise he cannot
advance smoothly.
At the time of enrollment,
students need the just-right level
of work skills, not the just-right
level of understanding. They need
to be able to do the work easily,
not just understand the material.
You should carefully observe the
balance of the just-right level
of work skills and the just-right
level of understanding of the
students. A students work load
of the time of enrollment usually
becomes very high because of

achieving the just-right level of


work skills. From the point of view
of the just-right level of work
skills, starting from Level A is
sometimes appropriate even for a
junior high school student instead
of Level E. We should explain this
situation accurately to the student
as the Kumon Method.
(West Japan Intensive Lecture, Sept. 1988)

THE STANDARD COMPLETION


TIME JUDGES THE
JUST-RIGHT LEVEL OF
WORK SKILLS
The just-right level of
understanding means the level
at which students are able to
understand the content though
it takes them quite a while to
complete the worksheets. They
are able to solve problems but
it takes time. The level at which
students can complete their work
comfortably is the level where
they can do the work easily and
it must be lower than the justright level of understanding. This
is the reason that students usually
start their study from a lower level
in the Kumon Method.
I think that Instructors are
mindfully taking care of students
just-right level of work skills.
The Standard Completion Time
is actually made for judging the
just-right level of work skills.
If a student cannot complete
worksheets within the SCT, his
study is challenging. The SCT is
determined by the point of the
just-right level of work skills.
If a student starts his study from
the level at which he can complete
his work comfortably, or at the
just-right level of work skills,
he is going to gain concentration
ability. If he starts his study beyond
the just-right level of work skills,

he cannot obtain the concentration


ability. So it is important that he
starts his study from the point of
the just-right level of work skills.
(Chairmans round-table conference,
Oct. 1991)

THE JUST-RIGHT LEVEL


FOR DEVELOPING A
GOOD ATTITUDE TOWARD
STUDYING
I would like to tell you about
the case of a student in order
to explain the just-right level
for developing a good attitude
toward studying. A student failed
the entrance examination of the
senior high school that he most
wanted to get into, and he realized
keenly a lack of his English ability.
As a ninth grader, he enrolled in
Kumon on March 12. He started
Level E of the Kumon English
Program for Japanese students
and completed Level P (the last
level of the program at that time)
on April 29. There are 12 levels
from Level E to Level P. Two
hundred pages times 12 levels are
2400 pages. He completed 2400
worksheets in only 49 days.
He could study 100 pages per
day easily at the beginning. He
was kind of a smart kid. He himself
thought that he could complete
the program easily. However,
after he became a freshman in
his local high school in April, his
study did not progress as fast as
it did before. But he didnt give
up continuing his study, and he
shortened his sleeping time. I
think that such an experiment is
okay sometime during a young
age. He completed the program on
April 29 by shortening his sleeping
time. What interested me most was
his state when his sleeping time
was shortened. He mentioned that

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A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT


INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT
UPI: READING
RECOMMENDED READING LIST
WORKSHEET STUDY
SELF-LEARNING

32

he was very sleepy when doing


anything except worksheets.
What made his success was the
starting point of Level E. This was
the just-right level for developing
a good attitude toward studying! If
he had started at Level G, he might
not have completed program. It
was good that he started from
Level E. He was able to estimate
the time when he would complete
the program by shortening his
sleeping hours. This is exactly the
just-right level for developing a
good attitude toward studying.

sink if I swim more slowly than


this. As a result, after swimming
around 200 meters, I can guess
that I can swim ten times of this.
This is a very important point.
The student I mentioned above
was able to solve 100 pages easily
because of starting his study from
Level E. I suppose that he guessed
he could complete the program
because he solved 100 pages at
the beginning. Starting from Level
E instead of Level G is the justright level for developing a good
attitude toward studying.

(West Japan Intensive Lecture, Sept. 1988)

(East Japan Intensive Lecture, Sept. 1988)

THE SECRET OF SWIMMING


3000 METERS IS THAT YOU
SWIM 200 METERS AT A
VERY SLOW PACE
I wonder if my experience helps
Instructors. I started swimming
once a week because I contracted
an illness. I swam 500 meters at
first; swam 1000 meters the next
week; swam 1000 meters three
times the next; swam 1500 meters
three times the next; swam 2000
meters three times the next;
swam 2500 meters three times
the next; and then swam 3000
meters. While I was swimming
around 2000 meters, my wife told
me, Please dont force yourself
to swim too much. I am anxious
that you might be drowning in
the swimming pool until you
come back home. My doctor also
said that I may not notice my
physical fatigue. I dont think that
I can swim 2500 or 3000 meters
without knowing my fatigue.
What is the secret that I was
able to swim such a long distance?
That is exactly the just-right
level for developing a good
attitude toward studying. I swim
at a very slow pace that I cannot
swim more slowly than this. I will

A CASE OF A REFORM SCHOOL


There is a reform school that
uses the Kumon Method. Students
in the school are around junior
high school age, and they have
committed a serious crime like
an adult. None of the students
got a good score in their former,
ordinary school. I thought that
there were some good students
among them, but it was said there
were no exceptions. If they could
read even letters only, they usually
recovered from the situation and
did not enter such a reform school.
It was said that they were in an
extremely bad state.
The students are placed in a
solitary cell at first. The cell is
locked, so they cannot go out.
Then, what do they do? They are
made to solve Kumons lower
level worksheets, such as 3A,
2A or A. They cannot go out, so
they have no choice but to do
Kumon worksheets, even for one
hour or two hours. While solving
the worksheets in order, to their
surprise, they came to understand
multiplication, which they didnt
understand at their schools before
coming to reform school. They
didnt understand fractions at their

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FALL 2013

school, but they came to be able to


solve them without thinking about
it. In the reform school, they started
their Kumon study from Level 3A
or 2A and progressed to Level I
in half a year. They progressed to
Level J after one year. This is the
effect of the Kumon Method.
They say that this way of study
is far more interesting than watching television. Without watching
television, they are thinking of
math problems even in the washroom. They are thinking things
like, That problem of factorization is interesting, I solve the
equation in this way, but are there
any other ways to solve it? or I
cannot solve it in this way, but if I
change this expression.
Then, they begin to study
English. They want to take English
Aptitude Tests. A student wanted to
take the level 5 and level 4 tests
at the same time. A teacher at the
school suggested he take the level
5 test only because the level 4 test
was a little bit challenging for him.
The student answered, After being
released from this reform school, I
may not be able to take the tests,
so I want to take the level 4 test
while I am here. I am okay, even
though I fail. His story impressed
me deeply.
It is very important to give a
student the just-right level of
study. It is the strength of the
Kumon Method that if you pursue
each childs just-right level of
study, he can progress even though
he starts from a lower level. I
believe there is no such case in
conventional school classes. Now
it is obvious that conventional
class style is not a proper way of
education. The just-right level of
study is indeed the true form for
the world education.
(Chairmans Lecture at Sapporo Branch,
Oct. 1993)