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Kumon Publishing North America Review by Christine Field

300 Frank W. Burr Blvd.
Teaneck, NJ 07666

You may have heard of Kumon Learning Centers, a worldwide chain of tutoring centers. But did you know they also have a separate division that publishes workbooks for parents to use, whether or not their child is receiving tutoring services from Kumon? I had a chance to take a look at a few of these and they look really neat!

Currently 20 workbooks are available. They are designed to introduce basic skills to students age 2 - 6, and cover subjects of alphabet, readying, writing, addition, subtraction, pencil and scissors skills. The teaching method is based on a Japanese learning system that teaches concepts in a step-by-step manner. The child learns each skill to mastery before moving to the next skill. The focus is on facilitating the self-acquisition of skills needed to improve academic performance.

Current titles include: Uppercase Letters, Lowercase Letters, Rhyming Words, Rhyming Words and Phrases, Numbers 1 - 30, Numbers 1 - 120, Simple Addition, Addition, Number Games 1 - 70, Number Games 1 - 150, Mazes, Cutting, Pasting and Easy Crafts. I got to look at three titles, My Book of Writing Words, My Book of Rhyming Words and My Book of Simple Sentences.

My Book of Writing Words, for ages 5, 6 & 7, consists of a good review of vowel sounds, vowel pairs and consonant blends. Initially, the child traces words. Each letter is in a box shaped like the letter. Students thus memorize the shape of the letter while learning to print the letter. Tracing is gently phased out as the child writes the words from memory, still in the letter-shaped boxes. By the end of the book, the child is working on simple sentences.

My Book of Rhyming Words, for ages 4, 5 & 6, uses the same tracing method, along with some simple mazes and matching activities to learn and cement the concept of rhyming words. By the end of the workbook, students have mastered many one-syllable rhyming words.

My Book of Simple Sentences, for ages 5, 6 & 7, gently teaches children about nouns and verbs. Students learn singular and plural nouns and progress to writing simple sentences.

I like the look and feel of these workbooks. They are colorful, but the colors are muted and not overwhelming. The pace is gentle and the activities are fun. Not intended to be an entire language arts program, these books will help shore up weak areas and introduce new concepts to your young learners. I appreciate the fact that they are reasonably priced at $6.95. Check out all the titles available on their web site.

-Product Review by Christine Field, Senior Contributing Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2006