Attempting SAT Math at Age 45 Led Me Back To Square One: Kumon

Lesson Learned: There Are No Shortcuts

Posted Jul 23, 2011

Last Saturday morning I stopped by the Kumon office for supplies. It was teeming with little munchkins. A young male employee greeted me at the door, looking around for my little tykes. I didn't have the heart to explain that they're big and rebellious now, and I'm here for myself.

I asked for Jennifer, the owner, who immediately ran over to greet me. We had our awkward little munchkin moment, and then we moved on to a conversation about what supplies I need based on how I'm scoring.

Go ahead, laugh......but I'm telling you, it works.

I've been doing Kumon for about 3 weeks now (or is it 4?). I started with simple addition for 3 minutes per day. I told the Kumon woman that I can handle more, so now I get a double dose. I'm working my way through subtraction and have even seen a smattering of addition sprinkled in (just a hint, and only recently).

I keep asking the Kumon lady, "when are we getting to those polynomials?" and she smiles, and says back to me, "not for a long time."

Ok, this is a painstakingly slow process, BUT,

A) I'm enjoying it enormously


B) I am in the midst of I.Q. and achievement tests with a psychologist, and one part of the neuropsych evaluation today was Kumon style worksheets (but all mixed up), and he said that I had 3 minutes to do the sheets, and from the way he said it, it didn't sound like I was supposed to finish.

And when he hit that stop watch, I ran like the wind. The only thing stopping me was how fast my hand could write. I was a Kumon Ninja.

It made me realize (what I already knew in my bones), that there is a method to their madness (i.e. Kumon), and it may seem absurdly slow, but I'm telling you, I finished that part of the I.Q. test early, and there was NO WAY that that would have happened a month ago. I would have hesitated, and hemmed and hawed about how to carry over the multiple numbers in subtraction, etc.

Today, there wasn't an iota of hesitation. None.

I may be on my death bed by the time I get to those polynomials, but who's counting.

No question the spaced repetition works. Just ask Sheldon the Word-Nerd.



llustration by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Copyright Debbie Stier



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