Shichida vs. Kumon: A Comprehensive Comparison of Effective Early Learning Methods

Early childhood education is critical in shaping a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. Two renowned methodologies in this field are the Shichida Method and the Kumon Method. Both emphasize the importance of early brain development but differ significantly in their philosophies and techniques. This article explores the key differences and similarities between these two methodologies, helping parents make informed decisions.

The Shichida Method

Photo Credit: Shichida Australia. Children playing a memory game in a Shichida class.

Background and Philosophy

The Shichida Method, established by Professor Makoto Shichida in 1958, is rooted in extensive research into early childhood brain development. This method emphasizes comprehensive brain training, engaging both the right and left hemispheres to enhance creativity, intuition, memory, and logical thinking. Shichida’s philosophy posits that every child has vast potential that can be unlocked through early and appropriate stimulation and nurturing.

Type of Early Learning Method

Whole-Brain Training: The Shichida Method is categorized as a whole-brain training program that emphasizes the development of both the right and left hemispheres of the brain through structured and varied activities.

Age Range

  • Shichida Method Program: Caters to children from 6 months to 9 years old, with intake cutoff age at 4 1/2 years old.
  • SHICHIDA at Home Program: Designed for children aged 1 to 5 years.

Key Components

  1. Right-Brain Training: Activities like flashcards, speed reading, and memory games are designed to stimulate the right hemisphere, enhancing creativity, intuition, and photographic memory.
  2. Left-Brain Training: Logical thinking and language skills are developed through activities such as puzzles, phonics exercises, and math games.
  3. Memory Development: Techniques like memory linking and rapid image flashing are employed to improve photographic memory and recall abilities.
  4. Emotional Development: The method emphasizes emotional bonding and positive reinforcement to build a child’s confidence and motivation.
  5. Flashcards: Used as a right brain activity to increase vocabulary, general knowledge, math, and phonic knowledge, as well as to improve memory.
  6. Sensory Stimulation: Incorporates songs, games, and activities that stimulate the senses to improve sensory processing.
  7. Parental Involvement: Parents are integral to the Shichida Method, participating actively in activities alongside their children.

Benefits

  • Enhanced memory and concentration.
  • Improved problem-solving skills.
  • Balanced development of both brain hemispheres.
  • Strong emotional intelligence and social skills.
  • Increased confidence and motivation.
  • Engaging and fun learning experience.
  • Strengthened parent-child bond.

Program Structure

  • Shichida Centres: Offer one teacher-guided class per week, ensuring consistent and structured learning experiences.
  • SHICHIDA at Home: Provides a flexible online learning platform for ages 1 to 5, including videos, songs, printable workbooks, and parental guides.

The Kumon Method

Photo Credit: Kumon Education. Kumon Instructors provide just enough guidance for their students to be able to do the exercises on their own.

Background and Philosophy

The Kumon Method, developed by Toru Kumon in the 1950s, focuses on self-learning and mastery of basic academic skills. Kumon, a high school math teacher, created this method to help his son improve his math skills. The program is designed to foster independent learning and a strong foundation in mathematics and reading.

Type of Early Learning Method

Skill-Based Learning: The Kumon Method is categorized as a skill-based learning program that emphasizes incremental learning and mastery through daily practice and repetition.

Age Range

The Kumon Method is suitable for children from preschool to high school, with programs tailored to different age groups and skill levels.

Key Components

  1. Mathematics: Step-by-step worksheets covering basic to advanced math concepts, designed to develop problem-solving skills and numerical fluency.
  2. Reading: Worksheets focused on reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking, aimed at improving literacy and language skills.
  3. Incremental Learning: Each worksheet builds on the previous one, ensuring that students master each concept before moving on to more challenging material.
  4. Self-Learning: Students are encouraged to work independently, developing self-discipline and a sense of responsibility for their learning.
  5. Daily Practice: Consistent practice through daily worksheets to reinforce learning and ensure retention of concepts.
  6. Parental Involvement: Parents support their children’s learning by providing a conducive environment for daily practice and encouraging perseverance.

Benefits

  • Strong foundation in math and reading skills.
  • Development of independent learning habits.
  • Improved concentration and discipline.
  • Incremental mastery of academic concepts.
  • Encouragement of self-paced learning.

Program Structure

  • Kumon Centres: Offer regular classes where students complete worksheets under the guidance of a Kumon instructor.
  • Home-Based Learning: Parents can facilitate the Kumon Method at home with guidance and support from Kumon instructors.

Comparing Shichida and Kumon

Philosophical Approach

  • Shichida: Focuses on balanced brain development and integrates emotional and social growth through structured activities and parental involvement, aiming to improve both IQ and EQ.
  • Kumon: Emphasizes skill mastery and independent learning through incremental practice and daily worksheets, focusing primarily on math and reading.

Curriculum Structure

  • Shichida: Adaptable to the child’s pace, using various activities to stimulate different development areas, including both right and left-brain training.
  • Kumon: Structured around incremental learning and mastery, with a rigorous schedule of daily practice to ensure concept retention.

Parental Involvement

  • Shichida: Parents are heavily involved in the learning process, playing an important role in class and creating a supportive learning environment at home.
  • Kumon: Parents support their children’s independent learning by providing a conducive environment for daily practice.

Learning Environment

  • Shichida: Learning occurs both at home and in centres, promoting a holistic educational experience through structured activities and parental involvement.
  • Kumon: Primarily centre-based, with regular classes and daily worksheets for home practice.

In-Depth Look: Core Techniques

Right-Brain Stimulation vs. Incremental Learning

  • Shichida: Utilizes flashcards with rapid image flashing and memory linking to enhance photographic memory. Techniques like deep breathing, visualization, and imaginative play stimulate creativity and intuition. Core key learning areas like math, literacy, and fine motor skills are addressed through games and activities.
  • Kumon: Emphasizes incremental learning through daily worksheets, ensuring mastery of basic skills before progressing to more advanced concepts.

Memory Development vs. Self-Learning

  • Shichida: Focuses on working memory training with techniques aimed at improving short-term and long-term memory, using rapid image recall, linking stories to images, and mnemonic devices.
  • Kumon: Encourages self-learning and problem-solving through independent practice, fostering discipline and responsibility.

Emotional and Social Growth

  • Shichida: Emphasizes emotional development and social skills through activities designed to build confidence, empathy, and communication skills. Parental involvement reinforces emotional bonds.
  • Kumon: Develops perseverance and self-confidence through the consistent achievement of academic milestones.

Practical Applications for Parents

Shichida Method at Home

Parents can implement the Shichida Method at home through various activities that promote right-brain stimulation and emotional bonding:

  • Flashcard Sessions: Regular sessions with flashcards to stimulate visual memory and the whole brain connection. Include varied topics to cover math, phonics, colors, shapes, art, geography, and more.
  • Memory Games: Games that involve recalling sequences or the placement of images or numbers.
  • Math and Phonics Games: Games that involve counting and matching numbers or identifying and matching letters.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Using praise for effort and encouragement to build your child’s confidence and motivation.
  • Interactive Play: Pretend play and storytelling to enhance creativity and social skills.
  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Teaching relaxing deep breathing exercises to help with focus and calming down.
  • Educational Songs: Incorporating educational songs during playtime to enhance the understanding of key skills.

Kumon Method at Home

Parents can implement the Kumon Method through structured activities that promote skill mastery and independent learning:

  • Daily Practice: Ensure consistent practice with daily worksheets covering math and reading concepts.
  • Incremental Learning: Support your child in mastering each concept before moving on to the next level, reinforcing understanding and retention.
  • Self-Learning: Encourage your child to work independently, developing their problem-solving skills and self-discipline.
  • Parental Support: Provide a conducive environment for daily practice and offer encouragement to maintain motivation.

Accessibility of Programs

SHICHIDA at Home

For parents who cannot access Shichida classes in person, the Shichida Method offers an educational platform called SHICHIDA at Home. This online program provides videos, songs, printable workbooks, and parental guides to replicate the classroom experience at home.

Photo Credit: SHICHIDA at Home. The SHICHIDA at Home content is delivered on a child-safe, ad-free educational platform and includes both videos and printable workbooks.

Kumon Method Resources

The Kumon Method is primarily centre-based, but parents can facilitate home practice with support from Kumon instructors. Various resources, including books and online tools, are available to support parents in implementing the program at home.

Conclusion

Both the Shichida and Kumon methods offer unique and effective approaches to early childhood education, focusing on harnessing the brain’s potential during its most formative years.

  • Shichida: Ideal for parents seeking a balanced approach that includes cognitive, emotional, and social development, with significant emphasis on parental involvement.
  • Kumon: Suited for those looking for a structured, incremental approach to academic skills mastery, with a strong focus on independent learning and discipline.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on the individual needs and learning style of the child, as well as the parents’ involvement and educational philosophy. By understanding the core principles and benefits of each method, parents can make a well-informed decision to support their child’s early development journey during these crucial years.

SHICHIDA at Home provides many activities designed to help develop your child’s cognitive abilities. Try your FREE TRIAL today!

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