A history of Kumon

Company founding
Toru Kumon and his sonThe Kumon Method of Learning was born from one father’s love for his child in 1954. Toru Kumon, a caring father and gifted high school maths teacher, saw that his son Takeshi was not excelling in maths at school. To help him improve he wrote out maths worksheets for his son to complete daily. Toru Kumon believed that educators have a responsibility to foster a mindset of self-learning in children, so he created learning materials for Takeshi that encouraged him to work independently.

Takeshi’s ability improved significantly and following his son’s success, Toru Kumon invited some local children to study in the same way. In turn, all of them greatly improved. It was this, coupled with Toru Kumon’s desire to develop the potential of as many children as possible, that prompted him in 1955 to open the first Kumon maths centre in Osaka, Japan. Kumon expanded to Tokyo in 1962, reaching a combined total of over 10,000 students studying with Kumon by 1969.

Early years of international expansion
In 1974, Toru Kumon published a book entitled The Secret of Kumon Maths which illustrated the aims of the Kumon Method and its effectiveness so far. It was well received, provoking a flood of enquiries. At the same time, Kumon began to expand internationally, opening its first centre outside of Japan in New York, USA. The total number of Kumon subject enrolments in Japan continued to grow, reaching 200,000 by 1977.

Throughout the 1980s, Kumon expanded both in geographical reach and in subject matter. In 1980, Kumon successfully opened its first centre in Europe in Germany, moving into the UK market in 1983. It also developed the Kumon English Programme (for native Japanese speakers) in 1980, as well as the Kumon Japanese Programme (for native Japanese speakers) in 1981. By the late 1980s, there were affiliated Kumon companies and study centres in Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong and Canada. By 1989, the total number of subject enrolments exceeded 1.5 million.

Meaning of the Kumon logo
The Kumon Method of Learning encourages both students and Instructors to think deeply to solve problems and work out answers. The O in our Kumon logo represents the ‘Thinking Face’. This is the expression of students who are engaged; learning, thinking and growing in Kumon study centres across the world. Similarly, it represents the faces of everyone involved in Kumon. From Associates to Instructors, there is a mutual desire to grow and improve, putting education and the development of each child’s potential at the forefront of our thoughts.

The Kumon blue used in our logo represents intelligence, honesty and the sky that stretches across the world. It also represents our hope that the world will be united, the future of our children will grow on a grand scale and that people all over the world will think seriously about education.

Kumon in Ireland
The first Kumon study centre opened in Ireland in 2000 offering students both its English and maths study programmes. Within the first decade of its launch in Ireland, Kumon had opened eight study centres. In 2009, the first national awards ceremony was held in Dublin to celebrate the achievements of 79 awardees with 200 guests in attendance. Kumon is now the largest supplementary education provider in Ireland with more than 2,500 Kumon students learning at over 20 study centres across Ireland.

Kumon has continued its global expansion, with over 4 million students worldwide studying in 50 countries and regions across the world. View the timeline below for more details.

The 1950s
1954
Toru Kumon, a high school maths teacher, began providing education-based on the concept of self-learning to his son, Takeshi, then a second grader in elementary school. He wrote numerous calculation problems on loose-leaf paper for his son. This was the origin of the Kumon Method.
Toru Kumon and his son Takeshi
1955
The first maths centre using Kumon worksheets is opened in Osaka, Japan.
A sample of original worksheets done by Toru Kumon
1958
The Kumon Institute of Education is established.
1959
Toru Kumon starts the Advanced Student Honour Roll - celebrating students learning independently, above the level expected for their age.
Advanced STudent Honour Roll
The 1960s
1962
The Osaka Institute of Mathematics Ltd. is established.
The early years of Kumon
1968
Toru Kumon retires from Osaka Municipal Higashi High School, ending his teaching career to focus on the business of the Kumon Institute.
Founder Toru Kumon
1969
The number of Kumon students exceeds 10,000.
The 1970s
1974
The first Kumon centre outside of Japan opens in New York, USA. It was with the opening of this Centre in New York that the provision of Kumon Method study outside Japan first began.
Kumon in the USA
1975
The number of Kumon students exceeds 100,000.
1976
Kumon celebrates the first student to complete the final worksheet in the maths programme.
1977
The first pre-school-aged child to be able to solve linear equations is nurtured via the Kumon Maths Programme.
1978
Takeshi Kumon (Toru Kumon's son and the first Kumon student) is appointed as the President of the Kumon Institute of Education.
Toru Kumon and his son Takeshi Kumon
1979
Kumon arrives in Europe, offering the maths programme in Germany.
The 1980s
1980
The first Kumon Recommended Reading List is prepared.
The Kumon Recommended Reading List
1981
The number of Kumon students exceeds 1,000,000.
Kumon reached 1 million students in 1981
1983
The first Kumon study centre in the United Kingdom opens.
1987
The first Kumon International Instructors' Conference is held at the Kumon Kyoiku Kaikan in Osaka, Japan.
1988
When the vice principal of Sumiton Elementary School in Alabama saw a TV programme about Kumon she became convinced of the efficacy of the method and felt that it could really help her students to get over their aversion to maths. This was the first time that the Kumon Method was utilised in regular school classes outside of Japan. The results were even greater than expected and this achievement was hailed as the "Miracle of Sumiton" in a variety of media. This publicity led to greater awareness of Kumon and the establishment of more and more Centres around the world.
The 1990s
1993
The number of Kumon students worldwide exceeds 2,000,000.
Kumon reached 2 million students worldwide in 1993
1995
Chairman Toru Kumon passes away at the age of 81 (25 July).
Chairman and Founder Toru Kumon
1997
President Takeshi Kumon passes away (7 January).
The 2000s
2000
The first Kumon study centre in Ireland opens.
2001
The new Kumon logo is created. The number of Kumon students exceeds 3,000,000 worldwide.
The new Kumon logo
2006
The number of Kumon students exceeds 4,000,000 worldwide.
Kumon reaches 4 million enrolled students
2008
The Kumon Group celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The 2010s
2011
Kumon UK celebrates its 20th anniversary at the annual Instructor conference in Brighton.
2014
Kumon Instructors across the globe met in Japan to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of founder Toru Kumon.
2017
Kumon is now in 50 countries and regions around the world.
Kumon spreading worldwide
2018
The Kumon Group celebrates its 60th anniversary.

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