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Sherwood gets schooled

Kumon learning center opens Old Town branch

Sherwood added another element to its kid-friendly downtown in September with the opening of Kumon learning center.

The learning center helps children of all skill levels with tests like its number board, which curious Chamber of Commerce members completed during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Kumon in September. The test asked students - or adults, in this case - to match 50 or 100 numbered chips with matching numbered squares on a board. While it looks like a simple game, the time it takes to complete the test can be a good measure of mathematic proficiency, explained Marga Bailey, a Kumon instructor and the owner of the new Sherwood location. In addition, Bailey said using the boards can help a student struggling in mathematics to become better with numbers.

Kumon learning centers use the Kumon Method, developed 50 years ago in Japan by Torun Kumon to help his son excel in math. The method isn't modeled after a tradition classroom or tutoring session, but instead focuses on a child's individual needs. The company boasts a "self-motivated-learning" approach in which students work on specific assignments until they perfect them in a prescribed amount of time, at which point they move on to the next level.

Bailey discovered Kumon thanks to her own son's problems in math 15 years ago while the family was living in Hawaii. A teacher recommended the center and she said her son was liberated by being able to progress at his own pace and learn independently.

"What we had found was that it had improved his skill and given him the discipline to study and make him feel like he could really be a good student," she said.

Bailey, who had worked in special education departments in three different states, started her first Kumon in Beaverton eight years ago after returning to the states. She said she found a lot of children having similar problems as her son.

The Kumon learning method revolves around worksheets that students must complete. While students will complete the same worksheets, they will do so at different speeds, and with different workloads, Bailey explained.

"For a student with a very poor attention span, we start with just a few pages," she explained. "For a student with an excellent attention span but who is a perfectionist, we teach them how to do it neatly but more efficiently."

Students typically come to Kumon twice a week, particularly in the beginning, because Bailey said she must get to know each child's strengths and weaknesses. Her original Beaverton location expanded, moving to SW Nimbus Ave., (which is actually in Tigard on the Beaverton border). She said with a number of clients in the Sherwood and Wilsonville area, it made sense to open something further south. The Sherwood location, located at 22566 SW Washington Street, next to the Sherwood Coffee Company. It is open Wednesdays from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kumon adds another facility for kids to the Old Town area, which already boasts Bumble Bee preschool, Mosaic Arts Loft, Burnit Studios and the Painted Plate.