Julie Blankenburg, the New Lenox franchise owner for , knows first-hand how effective the methods at the New Lenox-based learning center can be.
A few years ago, one of her children was having difficulty in school.
As a parent, it's hard to see your child having trouble because he or she just isn't fully grasping some concepts. She tried working through the problem on her own but quickly realized that she needed help. She did some research on the topic and evaluated a number of organizations designed to support education.
“Kumon stood out because the methodology that Kumon uses to help children get on solid academic ground made sense," Blankenburg said.
Her child was given a placement test to determine what concepts he knew and where he had incurred learning gaps. He was then placed in the programs at a point where he had no learning gaps. This gave him a comfortable point to start and allowed him to rebuild his confidence.
“It is so important for a child who has struggled to be able to feel confident again," she said.
Then, as her child progressed through the programs, he was able to fill in those gaps and prevent new ones from creeping in. While the programs do not cover all of the same material covered in the classroom, they are designed to supplement any school curriculum.
To make a long story short, she said, "I found Kumon. My son responded wonderfully."
The key to success was the fact that he was able to move through concepts at his own pace and master them before moving on. This really built his confidence and made him more comfortable and confident in the classroom. With that success in hand, Blankenburg was sold on the program.
In fact, she was so secure and confident in the program that she enrolled in serious training through Kumon, bought a franchise and opened a Kumon center in June on Laraway Road at Schoolhouse Road.
For students looking to overcome gaps in their learning, Kumon makes sure to begin with materials that the students have down cold. "You have to overcome a lack of confidence first. We don't want them to start where they are struggling," she added.
"The placement test allows me to see at what point a child is confused or lacking in a concept," Blankenburg said.
Once a child misses a concept or parts of a concept, whether it be understanding consonant blends or adding fractions, they begin to slip behind.
It may not show up right away, but that concept will pop back up again, and the child is destined to lose ground, she added.
Individualized to each student, the Kumon programs accommodate students at all levels. There is no peer pressure here. Everyone at Kumon progresses at his or her own pace. There is no rushing.
Once they feel a sense of confidence, "then we have built a foundation for advancement."
As a mother, Blankenburg said she's realized over the years that sometimes a parent just isn't the right person to help their own child.
“Sometimes the parent lacks the specific skills needed to help their children with their academic work. Other times, it may be that the child is being taught phrases or practices that are unfamiliar to the parent.”
Occasionally, the best gift a parent can give their child is allowing them the freedom to communicate with a third-party. The interaction flows smoother, she said.
While helping children catch up is a big part of the Kumon Learning Programs, Kumon is also sought out for enrichment opportunities.
“Some parents feel that their child can handle additional challenges beyond those offered in the classroom," she said.
Other parents enroll their children in pre-school to set their child on an early path to success.
The Kumon math and reading programs cover material from pre-school through high school. Blankenburg is currently enrolling children in the program. The Kumon Math and Reading Center is open during the day. Mondays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. is completely set-aside for students.
Of course, parents are invited, she added.