More than 60 years ago, a high school math teacher in Osaka Japan developed a nearly fool-proof technique for supercharging how kids learn math and reading. Now more than 4 million kids around the globe are learning the Kumon system while thousands of Kumon franchisees enjoy a fulfilling and profitable business.
Education today seems more like a political battleground with skirmishes over high-stakes testing, the so-called common core, and even disagreements about science versus religion. The big question is, are our children learning anything in this environment? Are they being prepared for college and adult life? And if not, who’s going to do something about it?
Booming Education Services Industry
Not surprisingly, an entire industry has grown up to address the limitations and turmoil in our public school systems. After school tutoring and remediation has become a $7 billion industry in the United States alone. With some 55 million students enrolled in K-12 schools, the potential for growth is enormous.
Industry Leader for 50 Years
Kumon is widely regarded to be the world’s largest after school franchise, helping four million children a year in 49 countries around the world. Since 2006, Kumon has enjoyed stellar growth in the United States, up 77% in enrollment, up 45% in average enrollment per center, and the total number of centers has gown by 21%.
Like many grand enterprises, Kumon began small with simple aspirations. In 1954, a high school math teacher in Japan named Toru Kumon was looking for a way to help his son who was struggling with math in his second grade classes. Kumon developed a worksheet approach that broke down key concepts into “bite-size” pieces and drilled his son in each concept until he had mastered them before allowing him to move on. The experiment was an instant and resounding success, and soon other parents wanted their children to learn the Kumon way. In 1958, Toru Kumon founded the company that bears his name, and in 1962 began franchising.
Kimono’s systematic approach allows students to start at a comfortable pace and move forward on their own schedule.
What Makes Kumon Different
Kumon is a remarkable system in many ways, not the least of which is its simplicity. Kumon is low-tech, requiring nothing more complicated than paper and pencils; old fashioned, emphasizing repetition and drills to ensure long-lasting results; and it stresses virtues such as independence and self-reliance. And most of all, it is student friendly. Says Natanis Blemenkehl owner of franchise in Carrol Gardens New York, Kumon’s systematic approach, “ allows students to start at a comfortable place and move forward on their own schedule, all the while filling any gaps that have developed along the way.”
Unlike most afterschool tutors, Kumon has its own curriculum designed to teach univeral math and reading concepts rather than what is being taught in local schools. It develops fluency in basic skills such as computation and comprehension that many schools with today’s emphasis on “teaching to the test,” no longer emphasize. The system is so effective that many Kumon students go to prestigious schools and enter highly paid professions.
What it takes to own a Kumon Center
- Four-year college degree required (teaching background helpful, but not essential)
- Proficiency in math and reading (franchisees undergo tests to evaluate their skills.)
- Investment of $69,428 – $140,620
- Net worth of $150,000. Liquid Capital of $70,000
- A good understanding of your area of opportunity and strong ties to the community
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- A full-time commitment to Kumon — an average of six to eight hours per business day, 40 hours per week.
- U.S. Citizen or Permanent Legal Resident (Green Card)
Training and Support
Kumon North America provides franchisees with training, support, and resources before, during, and after they open their centers.
- Initial training through the Kumon Instructor Development Program
- Support system of Kumon staff including recruiters, branch managers, and other franchisees
- Continuing education for franchisees, including meetings with other Kumon instructors in their
- Supply of student materials and internal/external communication resources
I’ve been with Kumon for 26 and a half years and its been the best part of my life. I feel very proud of myself and safe…it’s my own place. Being my own boss is great. Kumon changed my life. — Sharon
Benefits of Ownership
Self Fulfillment. Many Kumon franchisees have been teachers frustrated by the regimentation of public schools who not only wanted more for their students, but a more fulfilling life for themselves too.Sharon Oh, the Kumon franchise who has sent so many students to top level colleges, and has bee with Kumon for 26 and a half years, sums up her experience this way, “I’ve been with Kumon for 26 and a half years and its been the best part of my life. I feel very proud of myself and safe…it’s my own place. Being my own boss is great. Kumon changed my life.”