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Education center looks to help bridge learning gaps

The Kumon Math and Reading Center of Howard recently opened on Lineville Road

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April 21, 2023

HOWARD – Every parent wants their children to be successful in school.

However, due to a variety of factors, some kids are falling behind and through the cracks.

The Kumon Math and Reading Center of Howard (or Kumon of Howard, for short) – a new academic education enrichment center – looks to support those students needing a little extra help.

What is Kumon?
Kumon is the largest math and reading after-school program in the United States.

Yelonda Harvey, CEO of Kumon of Howard, said it focuses on developing independent and confident thinkers.

Harvey said Kumon got its start in Japan, by a father (Kumon) who wanted to thoroughly prepare his fifth-grade son, Takeshi, for the rigorous high school and college entrance exams he would eventually face while developing a love for learning.  

Harvey said he accomplished that – and more – by developing and giving his son short incremental assignments to do.

By following each assignment, Takeshi was able to master each lesson before moving on to learning another new skill.
Harvey said it sounds simple because it is simple.

Yet, the method was so successful that Takeshi was solving calculus problems by the time he was in sixth grade.

Other parents eventually took notice of what Kumon was doing, and Harvey said the process caught on, spreading like wildfire.

// Harvey

Today, millions of students in 50 countries have been helped by Kumon – with more than 4,000 locations throughout the United States and Canada, including the newly opened one in Howard. 

“All schools have lesson plans and goals for students to attain,” Harvey said. “It’s self-learning and, as instructors, we provide them with guidance and help them achieve confidence. It’s a home-based worksheet program. These worksheets were generated by Kumon for his son.”

Geared toward all ages
Any child in three-year preschool through 12th grade can enroll at Kumon for reading and math classes.

Harvey said it is designed to be a five-day-a-week program, with children required to come into the center two days a week and work on their worksheet assignments the remaining three days at home. 

“When a student first comes in, they’re given a placement test to determine an accurate and comfortable starting place for them,” she said. “I’m then able to design a lesson plan for them to meet the desired goals.”

Harvey said every child has a different ability and a different skill level.

“Every child has something different that motivates them,” she said. “I love how the Kumon method assists those students in bridging the gap – or even being able to pursue a higher grade-level in math or reading, based on their ability.”  

Harvey said the Kumon method is not designed to replace or supplement a student’s regular education, but to be an extension of what they’re already learning. 

“It’s either going to bridge that gap, or it’s going to catapult them to that next grade level – that’s our goal,” she said. “If a student comes consistently and does the required worksheets, (they and their parents) should see some improvement within three months. Enrollment can go from month-to-month, but I tell parents the best results to see are when a student has been enrolled for at least a year, so they can see the most growth.” 

Harvey said she understands the demands placed on teachers today, and also recognizes that, while most teachers do right by their students, there are a small minority who don’t. 

“Being in education as long as I have, I’ve seen teachers pass over students and push them onto the next grade level even though they’re not ready,” she said. “I want to be able to provide those skills to help students bridge that gap, where they might have fallen through, or provide enrichment to students who (are already doing well, but) want to get ahead.”

More on Harvey
Harvey spent seven years in the Navy, being honorably discharged as a Commander.

While still enlisted, the military paid for Harvey to pursue her second master’s degree and after her discharge, she went into education, a career field she’s now been in for 20 years. 

Harvey said she taught math and science for the last 10 years, and saw many students fall by the wayside during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

// program at Kumon of Howard is designed to be a five-day-a-week program –  two days a week at the center and three days of working on worksheet assignments at home. Photo Courtesy of Kumon of Howard

“It just breaks my heart that so many fell behind,” she said. “During the pandemic, I was teaching in an urban setting of Washington, D.C. When we were forced to teach kids virtually, I would spend extra time with the kids after school hours because we were able to modify hours we typically would have had.”

Harvey said she was grateful to have that personal one-on-one time with some of the students, which seemed to help them.
“Under typical conditions, I would not have had that opportunity to spend personal time with them,” she said.

Harvey said when she saw the opportunity to pursue a Kumon franchise, she thought it would be a natural transition for her, and give her the opportunity to spend personalized, one-on-one time with students.

“I love to see the lightbulb come on in the kids when you’re able to reach them,” she said. “There’s a shortage of teachers, classrooms are becoming more overcrowded than ever and there are not enough teachers to assist a student individually. Kumon allows me to do that.” 

Why Howard?
Harvey said she picked the location in the Village of Howard (2465 Lineville Road, Suite 7) based primarily on demographics and her own research. 

“From the research I did, it seemed like this area was in need of some type of enrichment program where it can help bridge those students that are either falling behind or need some enrichment,” she said. “This was a lucrative area for that, based on the demographics, as well as the socio-economics that fit what I was looking to provide.” 

Harvey said school security is foremost on people’s minds these days, which she said she, too, takes seriously.

Therefore, Kumon of Howard has two entrance doors – one main door the general public can enter, and a second door that only parents or students can access.

As students enroll, Harvey said she will discuss more detailed safety measures with them and their parents.  

A grand opening was recently held to introduce Kumon of Howard to the community – allowing those in attendance to hear first-hand about the Kumon method and how it works to help students not only master concepts but become self-thinkers and independent learners.

“Once you get students into a routine, they’re able to go from primary instruction to independent instruction,” Harvey said. “Each level has an achievement test they complete to help them transition smoothly to the next level.” 

Harvey said parents need to be involved in the student’s education through Kumon, just as they should be involved in their education at public or parochial schools.

She said Kumon can also be an effective educational tool for home-schooled students.

“Parents definitely have to be on board so we can both help the student – at home and at the center,” she said. “Communication is key.”

Harvey said it’s also important for people to understand they are not tutors.

“We don’t believe in hovering over students, telling them when they get something wrong or right,” she said. “Instead, we want them to learn from the examples – we provide a lot of examples on the worksheets so they can figure things out.”

Harvey said the Kumon method encourages regular conferences between parents and their child’s instructor to help gauge progress, goals and motivation.

“There’s an African proverb that says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” she said. “It definitely takes all hands on deck: family, friends and community.”

To learn more about Kumon, visit or call (920) 877-0933.

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