Since the inception of this blog, I’ve received various offers (none for marriage, by the way). Because this is an indie blog, there is no compensation, and it is done “for fun” and networking, I’ve turned down offers of free tickets, and other free gift type of items in exchange for hearty and enthusiastic reviews.
Recently I was approached by a company that has launched a series of workbooks for young children, in Spanish. When it comes to education, and learning, and clearly something I’m not going to be using for myself, this intrigued me a bit, so I agreed to review the items. It took a bit of time to receive them: the company sent them out quickly, but they were sent to a friend and relative of mine, in order to maintain anonymity, and due to her schedule there was a bit of a delay in getting them to me.
I was sent three workbooks, one for math, spatial coordination and one for color/design application. Or in English, one that uses adding and subtraction, a book of labyrinths and one to cut out and put appropriate items onto the main character, whether it be a person, animal, plant or a situation.
First of all, what I liked about these workbooks is that both the content and the paper used is of a high quality, especially the Cortar y Pegar (cutting and pasting) paper. At first, I imagined myself sitting with a young child, going over basic math skills. The series that I was sent for all of these was the Spanish Language series. Because of the family focus of the Latino families, I could easily see this book being used to begin developing a facility with numbers. Perhaps it would be a great place to focus on, to help bring more diversity to the workplace by creating more professionals by instilling a fondness for learning and math. The construct of the Math workbook I reviewed is also allows the parent or tutor to grade each page, with instructions to the parent in Spanish. I personally like giving a grade to each assignment, as it provides a metric for a child to either be proud of, or to strive harder to work on a task and to learn something.
The Labyrinth workbook is completely different, and teaches a child navigation and spatial skills. Half of the labyrinths are done with ‘real world’ concepts, such as streets, trees, vegetation, etc. while the other half are using maze like lines. It is a nice combination, as the pure line versions would be a little too much to use page after page. For anyone wondering what good are these, I can assure you that when you use something like this, different parts of your brain are used and for anyone, child or adult alike, the more you use parts of your brain, the easier it is to learn.
The third workbook I looked at was the one where the adult or child would cut out the each page, and place them or paste them onto appropriate areas of the main character.
The Kumon Method began from the kitchen of Mrs. Kumon, as she created worksheets to help her own son improve his math skills. Eventually they created a learning center, and their company grew into a worldwide effort with learning centers in 44 countries. According to their company information, “Concepts are introduced in a step-by-step manner that allows the child to master each in turn, without getting frustrated. Before long, children gain confidence in their abilities and are motivated to learn on their own.”
The workbooks are divided into basic skills, verbal skills and math skills. While the series in Spanish, which is new, is not as extensive as the English versions, personally I think it is a great way for parents and teachers to show by example that they value education and learning, and a great way to make learning “fun.” If you are serious about giving your children a head start in life, education is one of the the great equalizers, and thus, is very important.
One of the things I found very interesting is that while I worked several exercises in each of the books, I felt different parts of my brain working. I am sure that being on a computer for so long during the day, which is a digital device, is not exercising my brain the way reading on paper does. After all, our brains are analog, and my analog brain seemed to respond quite well to the analog media of paper, pen, and cutting and pasting. By the way, the company also has a “Train Your Brain” book for adults for $15.95.
You can find out more about Kumon’s workbooks by visiting their website: http://www.kumonbooks.com/home/index.aspx