Developing learners to Kumon completion
We first met Diya in 2017 when she was seven and she appeared in our Kumon advertising. In the past four years, Diya has remained focused on her Kumon and has just completed the Kumon English programme!
Diya‘s family and everyone at her Kumon centre are feeling immensely proud of her achievements. They spoke to us recently about what has inspired her and kept her motivated; you can read more here. Diya’s parents are in no doubt that her excellent relationship with Kumon Instructor, Eirini, has been instrumental to her success so far. How does it feel to be an Instructor and develop a child through to programme completion?
We spoke with Diya’s Instructor, Eirini Grammatikopoulou, from the Kumon Chelmsford North Study Centre in Essex, England to find out what it’s like to work with the students that she has.
What would you say are the behaviours that have enabled Diya to complete the English programme at such a young age?
“Being a very much self-motivated young lady, she wants to learn something new every day and loves reading books, so the English programme certainly suited her. Diya is also curious, inquisitive and very driven. She has a very positive attitude to learning and enjoys her work with Kumon.
She is keen to rise to a challenge and she loves working towards and exceeding her set targets. In particular, Diya enjoys beating her own personal best in terms of accuracy and timing.”
Do you believe that every child can complete work to an advanced level?
“I certainly think they can. The Kumon English Programme is designed in a way that helps and guides the students step by step. The students develop new skills every day and they practice them by using the new skills continuously. It is definitely possible to learn self-motivation and we see children making these improvements all the time.”
Why is the completion of the Kumon programmes such an important goal for students to set themselves?
“The whole concept of aiming for completion is based on fueling the self-motivation and ambition of students. Autonomy and intrinsic motivation are fostered through the very carefully designed programmes. Students setting themselves high goals is admirable in itself. Completing the maths programme, for example, means that the student has reached really high levels, including calculus. Having achieved such a big goal shows that they are ready for any challenges ahead. They have the skills, the attitude, the knowledge and the confidence to succeed in all aspects of life.”
You’ve nurtured a number of young students to an advanced level and even completion of the Kumon Maths and English Programmes. Can you tell us how this feels as an Instructor?
“I feel very privileged as I have nurtured many Completers in my centre. In the last year alone, we had one maths and four English Completers! Nothing beats the feeling of pride and elation when watching a student’s transformation; their journey of growth in confidence, and the spark in their eyes when they have achieved such a goal.
All this is reflected in their performance at school, and it becomes obvious when they get their results from their 11+, SATs, GCSE and A-Level exams. It is such an honour to witness their pride and joy with their own success. They understand that it’s a result of their continued hard work.
I feel so happy and accomplished as an educator when I watch them get excited about their future and ready to spread their wings.”
How does an Instructor develop a child’s study skills and ability to work things out for themselves? How do you achieve that?
“Firstly, by stepping back, observing and giving each student their own time and space to think. I always encourage them to “just give it a try”.
From the first time I meet a student, my aim is to help them understand that they shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes. Instead, they should embrace mistakes and use them as an opportunity for learning and growth. My students feel safe to try things and make corrections themselves.
I think that praise is key. Even when they make mistakes, they always get a, “Well done! Let’s correct them now!” This is the key to self-learning! I can see it in their smile, how proud they are when they figure something out all by themselves.”
Being a Kumon Instructor is very rewarding. Doing what I love most: working with children and running my own business, making decisions, being independent and creative is an amazing experience. It feels great to be part of the Kumon team in the UK and globally too. I feel that I have developed so many new skills and I learn something new every day. Just like my students.”Eirini Grammatikopoulou, Instructor
What aspects of instructing students are the most challenging?
“Very young students are so adorable when they begin to learn and discover new things. It’s always a challenge for me to balance their enthusiasm! The challenge is to keep them focused; this can be a task even for an experienced teacher. However, working with the early learners is a beautiful experience and a wonderful aspect of our work.
Our students range from three to 17 years old. Although it requires different sets of skills to instruct different age groups, it all comes down to understanding their needs. We need to use close observation; appreciate their efforts; motivate them to give it a try; reassure them that they will have all the support they need, and of course, give a lot of praise.
However, working with different age groups also requires differentiation. Young students may not be used to the learning environment and need support to adjust to this new process. My primary goal is to make them feel welcome and safe and make learning a very positive experience for them.
With older students, it is all about gaining their trust and respect. I always encourage them to share their goals with me and then we plan a strategy together to achieve them. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses is very important to help them work efficiently and with maturity.”
You’ve been able to tell us many things about what it’s like to instruct students. Perhaps we could also talk about what motivated you to become an Instructor. What was your career background and what inspired you to consider Kumon as a career?
“I am a fully qualified teacher and have been working in the public sector as well as private education for more than 25 years. Working with children is my passion. Six years ago, I was working in a primary school and I felt it was time to move on. I needed a change in my professional life. Then the opportunity to take over the Kumon Chelmsford North Study Centre arrived, and I grabbed it! I’ve never looked back since - it was the best decision I’ve made.
Being a Kumon Instructor is very rewarding. Doing what I love most: working with children and running my own business, making decisions, being independent and creative is an amazing experience. It feels great to be part of the Kumon team in the UK and globally too. I feel that I have developed so many new skills and I learn something new every day. Just like my students.”