Kumon was founded in 1954 in Osaka, Japan, by Toru Kumon, a math teacher who wanted his son to enjoy learning math and be prepared for the rigorous university entrance exams. While teaching calculus to high school students, Toru began researching the skills a student needs to excel in high school-level calculus. Each day, he’d give his son, Takeshi, short assignments to complete. The work was incremental, allowing his son to master each concept completely before learning a new skill.
As Takeshi’s ability improved, parents took notice. Interest in the self-learning method continued to grow, and the first Kumon Centre opened in 1958. The instructional method Toru Kumon created was so successful that Takeshi was solving calculus problems by the time he was in Grade 6.
Kumon opened the first centre outside of Japan in 1974, in New York. The success of Kumon’s math program in America led to the conception of a reading comprehension program, which was developed by a team of expert literature and reading specialists. Kumon’s reading program was launched in 1991. Using the same self-learning model, the program advances a child’s reading comprehension skills.
For more than 50 years, more than 16 million students worldwide have experienced the results of the Kumon Method of Learning.
Timeline of Kumon
- Toru Kumon, a high school math teacher, begins providing self-learning based education to his first son, Takeshi, who is in Grade 2 in elementary school. (This is the prototype of the Kumon Method.)
- As more children experience the benefits of the Kumon Method of Learning, Toru Kumon passes the after-school responsibility onto his wife, Teiko Kumon, and she becomes the first Kumon Instructor to open a Centre in Moriguchi City, Osaka.
- The office of the Osaka Institute of Mathematics is established in Osaka. (This is regarded as the foundation of the Kumon Institute of Education.)
- The Osaka Institute of Mathematics Ltd. is established.
- The first Kumon Centre in Tokyo is opened.
- The Tokyo Branch Office is established.
- An event commemorating the 5th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- Placement tests for new students are created.
- A general meeting commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- Chairman Toru retires from Osaka Municipal Higashi High School and ends his long teaching career to concentrate on the business of the Institute.
- The number of Kumon students exceeds ten thousand.
- Toru Kumon is appointed as the representative director of the Kumon Institute of Mathematics.
- Toru Kumon writes and publishes the first Instruction Manual. This can be regarded as the prototype of the current Instruction Principles and Guide.
- Takeshi Kumon joins the Institute.
- A general meeting commemorating the 15th anniversary of Kumon is held.
- The first Kumon Centre outside of Japan opens in New York, the United States (Mrs. Iwai).
- Chairman Toru’s first book, The Secret of Kumon Math, is published (Kosaido Publishing) and becomes a best seller.
- The number of Kumon students exceeds one hundred thousand.
- The first overseas office is established in Taipei, Taiwan.
- The first completer of Math Level O is accredited.
- The Standard Completion Time (SCT) is announced.
- Kumon expands to Brazil.
- Workbooks for preschoolers begin to be published.
- A ceremony commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- Takeshi Kumon is appointed as the President.
- Kumon expands to Germany.
- A nationally standardized Instruction Manual is published in Japan.
- Kumon expands to France and Canada.
- Kumon English Program (for native Japanese speakers) is launched.
- The Kumon Recommended Reading List is prepared.
- First Kumon Centre opens in Toronto, Canada (Mrs. Kishibe).
- The number of Kumon students exceeds one million.
- The Principles of the Kumon Method is published.
- The Kokugo Program (Japanese program for native speakers) is launched.
- Kumon expands to the Philippines.
- The Kumon Gakuen Educational Foundation opens Nobiteyuku (growing) Kindergarten in Takatsuki City, Osaka.
- Kumon expands to the United Kingdom.
- The Overseas Department in Japan sends Mr. Kenji Shikatani to open the first Kumon office in North America (Los Angeles, CA).
- The company name changes to Kumon Institute of Education Co., Ltd. from Kumon Institute of Mathematics Co., Ltd.
- A ceremony commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- Kumon expands to Australia.
- First North American Kumon Instructor’s Conference is held in Los Angeles.
- Kumon Japanese Program (for foreign learners) is launched.
- Kumon expands to Belgium and Peru.
- Kumon Penmanship Program (for Japanese learners) is launched.
- The first Achievement Test is used.
- Kumon expands to Malaysia, Austria and Switzerland.
- The first Kumon In-School Program in North America begins in Los Angeles County.
- Kumon French and German programs (for native Japanese speakers) are launched.
- Kumon expands to Singapore.
- The Kumon Speed Reading System (S.R.S) for Japanese learners of English is launched.
- The first Kumon International Instructors’ Conference is held at the Kumon Kyoiku Kaikan in Osaka, Japan.
- Kumon expands to Hong Kong.
- Kumon Publishing Co., Ltd., is established.
- Canadian Headquarters opens in Toronto (Kumon Educational Institute of Canada Inc).
- Sumiton Elementary School in Alabama, United States of America, implements Kumon worksheets in their regular classes.
- Kumon expands to Italy.
- A ceremony commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- Newsweek publishes an article on the implementation of the Kumon Method within Sumiton Elementary School in Alabama, United States of America.
- Chairman Toru visits Sumiton Elementary School and other US schools implementing the Kumon Method.
- Kumon expands to South Korea.
- The senior high school of the Kumon Leysin Academy of Switzerland opens.
- Time magazine features the merits of Kumon.
- The Kumon English Program (for native English speakers) is launched in Australia.
- Kumon expands to Thailand, South Africa, Indonesia, China, Mexico and Colombia.
- The commemorative publication Pursuing Potential and the biography Give It a Try are published.
- The first Kumon Centre in Mexico opens in Garza-García, in the northern State of Nuevo León.
- The Kumon Reading Program (North American version for native English speakers) is launched in the United States.
- Kumon expands to Spain and Hungary.
- Kumon expands the Netherlands.
- Worksheet distribution in the United States is centralized with the opening of the Kumon Distribution Centre (KDC) in Northern Kentucky.
- Kumon Kokusai Gakuen opens its junior high school in Yokohama City.
- The Kumon Chinese Program (Taiwanese version for native Chinese speakers) is launched in Taiwan.
- A ceremony commemorating the 35th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- The number of Kumon students exceeds two million.
- Kumon expands to New Zealand.
- A special lecture is conducted by Chairman Toru, commemorating his 80th birthday.
- The Kumon Portuguese Program (for native Portuguese speakers) is launched in Brazil.
- Kumon expands to Luxembourg and Bolivia.
- Chairman Toru passes away from acute respiratory failure induced by pneumonia at the age of 81.
- Kumon Instituto de Educación (Mexico) is established. Yuji Matsumoto is appointed as the first President.
- Kumon expands to Chile.
- Kumon Kokusai Gakuen opens its senior high school in Yokohama City.
- The Penmanship department is expanded to become its own company, Kumon LIL. Co., Ltd., offering courses in penmanship and calligraphy (LIL = Lifelong Integrated Learning).
- The Kumon Chinese Program (for native Chinese speakers) is launched in Hong Kong.
- Kumon expands to Botswana and Argentina.
- President Takeshi Kumon passes away from cancer.
- Kumon Mexico publishes its first advertorial. Enrollment increases by 87%.
- Kumon expands to Sri Lanka, Namibia and the United Arab Emirates.
- A ceremony commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- Kumon expands to Bahrain.
- Kumon expands to Kenya and Ireland.
- The organization is shifted into a group-management structure.
- The Kumon Toru Research Institute of Education Co., Ltd. is established.
- The number of Kumon students exceeds three million.
- Kumon expands to Myanmar and Zambia.
- Kumon Canada introduces French math worksheets to serve Francophone students.
- The new Kumon logo is created incorporating the image of ‘THE THINKING FACE’.
- A ceremony commemorating the 45th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- Kumon Workbooks (for preschoolers) are published in the United States.
- Kumon Learning Therapy Co., Ltd., is established.
- The Kumon EFL program (English as a Foreign Language) is launched in Brazil.
- The Kumon Spanish Program (South American version for native Spanish speakers) is launched in Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia.
- Kumon expands to India.
- The Kumon CFL Program (Chinese as a Foreign Language) is launched in South Korea.
- The number of Kumon students exceeds four million.
- Kumon expands to Qatar.
- Kumon expands to Vietnam.
- Kumon expands to Greece.
- The Kumon Thai Program (for native Thai speakers) is launched in Thailand.
- A ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Kumon is held.
- The Kumon Spanish Program (for native Spanish speakers) is launched in Spain.
- Kumon begins offering its educational services to universities.
- Global Communication & Testing Co., Ltd. (GC & T) is established.