Megan Warren has been a Kumon Franchisee since 1998 and still loves every minute of it.
I was a full time teacher in the Warldorf School before becoming a Kumon Franchisee. At the time it was an interesting opportunity and something that I thought could bring in a little extra income for me, just working two afternoons a week. I carried on teaching for three years after becoming an Instructor, but realised that with everything Kumon was giving me and my students that this was really the right thing for me and after ten years of being an educator in the formal sector I gave up my job and committed to Kumon full time.
I had always known I would be a teacher, even from an early age, and I found that Kumon actually answered all of my prayers as a way to still influence and educate children, but have my own business at the same time. I think that the odds of surviving in private enterprise in the education field are slim and so looking into what I could do with my passion for education outside of teaching Kumon was the obvious choice. Going into business with an established, well organised and successful programme meant that I didn’t have the concerns about starting up all on my own, but rather had that back up which was essential to my success.
It was difficult at first because essentially it was just a concept, but once I began to see the results of the programme, I knew that this was absolutely the business for me. I love the long term nature of the programme, not only does this mean that the children are really experiencing the true value of studying on their just right level, getting their foundations in place and then working above their school level, but also on a practical side it means that I can fairly accurately predict my income from month to month.
I have to say, my Kumon centre has only grown since I started. To this day I keep thinking that surely the growth is going to slow down or stop, but it just doesn’t, and I believe this is linked to the fact that Kumon are always striving for innovation and through doing so they have become and are remaining market leaders in the industry.
Another thing that interested me in Kumon is that I haven’t seen anything else that matches what Kumo does. As a Kumon Franchisee I get to engage the whole child. It isn’t just about a particular skill but really looks in detail about the study skills and ability of a child. We take everything into account, from how they sit and hold the pencil to the method they use to complete a linear equation. I am also not a great fan of computer based learning and I think that the success of Kumon in Japan, arguably one of the worlds’ most technologically advanced countries, speaks to the importance of pencil and paper learning.
If I think about what Kumon means to me the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a kindness to children. We never give them work that they are not prepared for. A lot of children experience a horror of a subject in school where they aren’t able to keep up with the group and this leads to a fear and resentment of a subject, but at Kumon we truly do believe that every child has potential to succeed and we will be able to help them grow. Through Kumon I have learned that every child really can do maths!
There are so many benefits that children experience in Kumon, but I think the most important is their own confidence in the subject. They know they know it and know that they are able to go further every time. As an Instructor I think it is great to be able to say that I know there are no gaps in the programme and every child who works through the Kumon programme will experience that confidence in the subject.
The most unique thing about Kumon is the fact that it is truly individualised education. I have had twins, siblings and cousins come through the programme and each one of them starts on a different level, works at their own pace. It is just amazing how Kumon realises the importance of the individuality of each and every child and is able to address their needs individually through one well researched, compiled and brilliant programme.
As an Instructor, my role is vital to this individualisation, I need to observe each child very carefully to make sure that they are always on the right level and that they are progressing according to their individual needs. Another unique thing about Kumon is that we also cater for very bright children which is rare in the extracurricular sphere, we aren’t only about getting children who are struggling on track, but we give all children the chance to progress and reach their potential.
A typical day for me starts with preparation. I go through each and every folder and record book of students who are coming to my centre that afternoon. For me it is so important to know every child, what their level is, what is coming up next and where I want them to go, and through preparing the work and looking back over their achievements I know I am doing what is best for each individual child. Mid-morning is for business matters, payments, stock ordering etc. There are a lot of business matters to take care of, and to be a successful instructor you need to make sure that you are on top of these things all the time. The rest of my day is spent with the children in my centre, observing, guiding, and ensuring that they are on the right track. We really do have children of all ages - my youngest is three and I have high school students going on to study advanced level maths. In terms of continuity I have students who have been with me for 10 years already and they are just growing all the time.
Kumon offers fantastic support; I can honestly say that I don’t think I would be where I am without it. Kumon pushes you to change, and it keeps things exciting. I can never say that I have finished learning and as you go along and take advantage of all of the training opportunities you actually realise how little you know and how much more there is to learn. One of the most recent trainings we have been part of is based on learning from a very successful Instructor in Japan and I have already started implementing some of the methods in my centre to great advantage to the students.
If I had to put my favourite thing about Kumon into one word it would be “Joy”. I get immense satisfaction from the progress of the students in my centre and the joy that comes with that is absolutely priceless. I actually want to put a camera outside of my centre and capture the kids expressions when they leave the centre. They are so proud and confident in what they have achieved in centre and for me that is the absolute joy that comes from being a Kumon Instructor.
I would definitely recommend becoming a Kumon Instructor to a friend. Having more centres only increases the brand awareness and the opportunity for more and more children to benefit from the programme. Looking at it from a business perspective you have the security of an international brand and structure behind you. The important thing for any franchisee to remember is that you are buying into a franchise for a reason.