No child is born genius or gifted but rather that the early years is crucial for both brain and learning development to discover limitless potential in children.
According to Kumon Malaysia, the pre-school years are the most important development stage where children will begin to learn and experience within the environment and eventually develop critical life skills.
Celebrating its 60th Anniversary, Kumon Malaysia held its annual National Instructors Summit on 26 July, 2018. At an expert roundtable session themed, “Limitless Potential in Kids: Truths vs Myths” which saw industry captains such as Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, Founding President of the Early Childhood Care and Education Council and Ms Katyana Azman, Child Psychologist at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, alongside Mr Yosuke Sugawa, General Manager of Kumon Malaysia to share their expertise and insights on the topic.
The National Instructors Summit is held annually at both national and international levels as a knowledge sharing platform amongst fellow Kumon instructors. This year, the National Instructors Summit was attended by over 150 instructors from more than 200 centres nationwide.
Delivering his welcome remarks at the National Instructors Summit 2018, Mr Yosuke Sugawa, General Manager of Kumon Malaysia said, “At Kumon, we believe that every child has potential. For over 60 years, we have supported parents, caregivers, instructors and students on the importance of discovering each individual’s potential in over 50 countries and regions around the world. In Malaysia, we were established in 1997 and is now the largest after-school enrichment programme. We continue to strive to guide our students to learn how to think, identify and attain their highest potential.”
Speaking at the expert roundtable session, Datuk Dr Chiam shared that a child’s developmental years does not only begin in their schooling years but from the time they are born. “The brain reaches over 80% of its adult size by the age of 3. During their early years, children are more attuned to discover and explore new experiences for themselves and these experiences are needed for the neurons or brain cells to connect to form neural pathways, that is, for the brain to develop. The first 24 months of life is the most sensitive period for the optimal development of emotional intelligence which is important to children’s holistic development during their growing up years. These are among the important factors to take into consideration to ensure a child is able to maximise his or her learning abilities to the fullest.”
According to the Human Capital Report in 2017, many of today’s education systems are disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labour markets. The Future Job report revealed that the key skill sets fundamental for a child’s future include complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. General Manager of Kumon Malaysia, Mr Yosuke Sugawa said, “These days, we observe textbooks as a “one size fits all”. Children are given materials and taught according to the syllabus and pre-determined age category. At Kumon, we emphasise self-learning where children are empowered to learn, attempt challenges independently and at the same time be equipped with critical life skills such as physical, social, cognitive and emotional skills. As such, the early years is definitely crucial to ensure children begin with a right start to achieve their fullest potential.”
Kumon Malaysia is Malaysia’s largest after-school Mathematics and English enrichment programme that unlocks the potential of children to achieve his or her fullest potential independently. Officially incorporated in 1958 in Japan, the Kumon Method was curated out of a father’s love for his son. It is a self-learning method which uses an individualised approach to allow children to advance smoothly while learning at a level that is most appropriate, “just right” for them. As a comprehensive programme, Kumon Malaysia is open to children from ages 4 – 17. Since its inception in Malaysia in 1997, Kumon Malaysia has over 200 centers nationwide. By discovering the potential of each child and developing their abilities to the maximum, Kumon aims to foster sound, capable people and thus, contribute to the global community.
The Kumon Method guides students to develop the ability to self-learn which is known to be beneficial in the long run as it encourages students to attain more in-depth knowledge at their own pace. With self-learning, students have improved motivation and better levels of discipline with their learning. Kumon has two core programs, the Kumon Math and Kumon Native Language Program (language varies by country) and a Pencil Skills Program for younger students.
At Kumon, students are required to undergo a diagnostic test to assess their learning capabilities. Kumon instructors will then prepare a customised student projection plan for the student to measure progress and identify challenges along the way. Each student is given an initial assessment of his or her abilities. Based on the results and the student’s study skills, a Kumon Instructor will create an individualized-study plan. Students commonly begin Kumon at an ‘easy starting point’ to build study habits, concentration and a strong understanding of the fundamental topics.
Dealing with children on a day-to-day basis proves to be no easy feat as each child is different in terms of their behaviour and personalities. In addition, changes from the traditional methods of upbringing due to the rise of technology and the digital age are some common factors that affects a child’s overall learning capabilities during their developmental years.
Child Psychologist, Ms Katyana Azman said, “Whilst we all want the best for our children and our students, sometimes, they face challenges which hinders their ability to perform to reach the best of their potential. Some of these challenges are observed within the classroom. As each child is unique –equipped with varying personalities, backgrounds, difficulties and strengths, it is necessary to identify teaching / guiding methods that are most appropriate for the child. To add, positive communications goes a long way to create a motivating environment for children to feel safe, comfortable and empowered to learn.”
In conjunction with Kumon’s 60th Anniversary globally, the expert roundtable session discussed key elements required to help children achieve their fullest potential. The session is also one of Kumon Malaysia’s awareness efforts under the campaign, “Discovering Limitless Potential.” Since its inception in Malaysia in 1997, Kumon Malaysia has over 200 centres nationwide.
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