78% of USA parents report that their children's math performance is in the top 20 percentile!!! Why is it that less than 50% (much lower in New Mexico) of our children meet college readiness standards? Please read the below article and share your thoughts with me. I'd love to hear what you have to say.
December 7, 2010
Report: U.S. parents overconfident about kid's math
By Dan Vergano
U.S. parents look out of touch in helping their kids with math, a report suggests, in comparison with one top education nation.In the "Parent Perceptions and Practices Regarding Math Education During the Middle School Years," report, sponsored by technology firm Raytheon, an Eduventures, Inc., research team compared U.S. parents to those in Singapore and the United Kingdom. The technology firm, "relies on a talented engineering workforce," the report says, so it wanted a look at why only 43% of U.S. high school graduates met "College Readiness" standards for mathematics.
"U.S. parents may be overly confident or lacking in the use of accurate metrics around math performance and college preparedness. For example, 78% of U.S. parents report their children's math performances are in the top 20% compared to peers in school," finds the report. Among the findings:
More parents in Singapore (51%) receive teacher advice on their helping with math homework, compared to U.S. and UK parents (25%).
More parents in Singapore (42%) use math tutors for their middle-school age children, than U.S. parents (10%).
More Singapore students (92%) receive out-of-school math teaching than U.S. or U.K. stuedents (less than 50%).
In general, the report concludes that U.S. parents place less emphasis on math skills than Singapore's parents, while for their children, "the employment world into which they graduate will continue to have increased needs for those with science, technology, engineering, and math expertise."
A recent National Academies of Sciences report echoed this concern, saying U.S. science education has "worsened" in the face of increasing international competition.
However, a number of observers have pointed to a lack of jobs, rather than shortfalls in U.S. education, as the driver behind U.S. science education graduation rates. A Georgetown and Rutgers University study found that the best U.S. students left technical fields for better-paying jobs in finance, medicine and law in recent decades.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
78% of USA parents report that their children's math performance is in the top 20 percentile!!! Why is it that less than 50% (much lower in New Mexico) of our children meet college readiness standards? Please read the below article and share your thoughts with me. I'd love to hear what you have to say.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Six Behaviors That Increase Self-Esteem
by Denis Waitley
Following are six behaviors that increase self-esteem, enhance your self-confidence, and spur your motivation. You may recognize some of them as things you naturally do in your interactions with other people. But if you don’t, I suggest you motivate yourself to take some of these important steps immediately.
First, greet others with a smile and look them directly in the eye. A smile and direct eye contact convey confidence born of self-respect. In the same way, answer the phone pleasantly whether at work or at home, and when placing a call, give your name before asking to speak to the party you want to reach. Leading with your name underscores that a person with self-respect is making the call.
Second, always show real appreciation for a gift or complement. Don’t downplay or sidestep expressions of affection or honor from others. The ability to accept or receive is a universal mark of an individual with solid self-esteem.
Third, don’t brag. It’s almost a paradox that genuine modesty is actually part of the capacity to gracefully receive compliments. People who brag about their own exploits or demand special attention are simply trying to build themselves up in the eyes of others—and that’s because they don’t perceive themselves as already worthy of respect.
Fourth, don’t make your problems the centerpiece of your conversation. Talk positively about your life and the progress you’re trying to make. Be aware of any negative thinking, and take notice of how often you complain. When you hear yourself criticize someone—and this includes self-criticism—find a way to be helpful instead of critical.
Fifth, respond to difficult times or depressing moments by increasing your level of productive activity. When your self-esteem is being challenged, don’t sit around and fall victim to “paralysis by analysis.” The late Malcolm Forbes said, “Vehicles in motion use their generators to charge their own batteries. Unless you happen to be a golf cart, you can’t recharge your battery when you’re parked in the garage!”
Sixth, choose to see mistakes and rejections as opportunities to learn. View a failure as the conclusion of one performance, not the end of your entire career. Own up to your shortcomings, but refuse to see yourself as a failure. A failure may be something you have done—and it may even be something you’ll have to do again on the way to success—but a failure is definitely not something you are.
Even if you’re at a point where you’re feeling very negatively about yourself, be aware that you’re now ideally positioned to make rapid and dramatic improvement. A negative self-evaluation, if it’s honest and insightful, takes much more courage and character than the self-delusions that underlie arrogance and conceit. I’ve seen the truth of this proven many times in my work with athletes. After an extremely poor performance, a team or an individual athlete often does much better the next time out, especially when the poor performance was so bad that there was simply no way to shirk responsibility for it. Disappointment, defeat, and even apparent failure are in no way permanent conditions unless we choose to make them so. On the contrary, these undeniably painful experiences can be the solid foundation on which to build future success.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Practice Being Like a Child
by Jim Rohn
Remember the master teacher once said 2,000 years ago, “Unless you can become like little children, your chances are zero, you haven’t got a prayer.” A major consideration for adults.
Be like children and remember there are four ways to be more like a child no matter how old you get :
Be curious. Childish curiosity. Learn to be curious like a child. What will kids do if they want to know something bad enough? You’re right. They will bug you. Kids can ask a million questions. You think they’re through. They’ve got another million. They will keep plaguing you. They can drive you right to the brink.
Also kids use their curiosity to learn. Have you ever noticed that while adults are stepping on ants, children are studying them? A child’s curiosity is what helps them to reach, learn and grow.
Learn to get excited like a child. There is nothing that has more magic than childish excitement. So excited you hate to go to bed at night. Can’t wait to get up in the morning. So excited that you’re about to explode. How can anyone resist that kind of childish magic? Now, once in a while I meet someone who says, “Well, I’m a little too mature for all that childish excitement.” Isn’t that pitiful? You’ve got to weep for these kinds of people. All I’ve got to say is, “If you’re too old to get excited, you’re old.” Don’t get that old.
Faith like a child. Faith is childish. How else would you describe it? Some people say, “Let’s be adult about it.” Oh no. No. Adults too often have a tendency to be overly skeptical. Some adults even have a tendency to be cynical. Adults say, “Yeah. I’ve heard that old positive line before. It will be a long day in June before I fall for that positive line. You’ve got to prove to me it’s any good.” See, that’s adult, but kids aren’t that way. Kids think you can get anything. They are really funny. You tell kids, “We’re going to have three swimming pools.” And they say, “Yeah. Three. One each. Stay out of my swimming pool.” See, they start dividing them up right away, but adults are not like that. Adults say, “Three swimming pools? You’re out of your mind. Most people don’t even have one swimming pool. You’ll be lucky to get a tub in the back yard.” You notice the difference? No wonder the master teacher said, “Unless you can become like little children, your chances, they’re skinny.”
Trust is a childish virtue, but it has great merit. Have you heard the expression “sleep like a baby”? That’s it. Childish trust. After you’ve gotten an A+ for the day, leave it in somebody else’s hands.
Curiosity, excitement, faith and trust. Wow, what a powerful combination to bring (back) into our lives.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Wow, wow, and WOW! The below article really gives me some new insight into "selling" Kumon to potential families.
First, a little info from my personal experience... then the article.
Kumon North America rolled out some new Parent Orientation materials last year. The info and materials were great and customizable (thanks, KNA!) I did everything I could to incorporate these amazing materials and script into my family orientations. I completely revamped my "new family" meetings.
What happened? FEWER ENROLLMENTS! I suppose that the "script" and "buzzwords" were just not me. I started "playing a role" rather than conveying my true enthusiasm and belief in the Kumon program. I stopped being as personal and individualized as I had been about "making the shoe fit the foot" of each potential new student. I started sounding "cannned", rather than authentic.
Good gosh! I am so glad I realized this sooner, rather than later. I've gone back to my "old" authentic, enthusiastic, and personal orientations. What I missed hearing from families when I used the "one-size fits all" script was that they "knew/felt my respect and belief in the Kumon program. Now that I have gone back to my "own" version, EVERY parent lets me know that they feel and appreciate my passion for Kumon.
This authenticity makes a difference. My enrollments are increasing :-)
Read on, my friends...
Selling Your Authenticity
~ Roger Dawson April 6, 2010
The truth is incontrovertible, as Winston Churchill would say. You cannot be a top producer unless you genuinely believe in the value of your product or service and can enthusiastically convey that to your buyers.
Let’s be clear about what I mean by enthusiasm. I don’t mean the mass excitement generated at rock concerts and sales rallies. That kind of frantic jump-up-and-down excitement is short-lived. What good does it do to get all pumped up at one of those rallies if the thought of making a cold call gives you a migraine?
No, I’m talking about the genuine enthusiasm that comes from a sincere belief in what you’re selling. To develop enthusiasm, start truly believing in your industry, your company, your product and your ability to serve your customers. If you truly believe in your product, you won’t need superficial excitement to motivate you. You’ll be sitting in front of that phone thinking, I can’t wait to pick up the phone and start telling people how good this is.
Here are some tips on how to grow your enthusiasm:
1. Get feedback from your customers. A lot of salespeople don’t want to hear from people they have sold. No news is good news for that kind of salesperson. Get feedback. The more you hear from your customers that they were delighted with their purchase, the better you will feel about what you do.
2. Improve the quality of your customers’ feedback with this mantra: I’m going to promise my customers less but deliver more. If you are closing sales by exaggerating the worth or value of your product, you are always going to have unhappy customers.
3. Stimulate your sales presentation with enthusiastic third-party stories. If you sell vacations and you can’t get excited about going to Hawaii, you can still enthusiastically say, “Jo and Bill McAuley were so excited about their vacation in Hawaii. They called to tell me that it was the best time they’d had in their lives.”
4. Learn about your competitors and their shortcomings. Some salespeople are reluctant to do this because they have no intention of knocking the competition. That’s fine, but hopefully, the more you know about your competitors’ problems and shortcomings, the more enthusiastic you will become about your own product.
I’ve never met a more enthusiastic salesperson than my good friend Peter Shield. I first met Peter in Brisbane, Australia, when he introduced me to the audience at one of my Power Negotiating seminars. About 15 years later, Peter emigrated from Australia to Las Vegas, where he got involved in the timeshare industry. He has taken to the timeshare industry like a duck to water. He loves it.
For years now I’ve tried to break Peter’s enthusiasm for timeshare. I’ve never been able to do it. Every project he has worked on has been the most incredible bargain in the world. “Come on Peter,” I’ll tease him, “when I want to go on vacation I can pick from thousands of travel bargains on the Web. Why would I need to buy a timeshare?”
“Roger,” he replies, “we’ve been friends for over 15 years now and I’ll tell you the truth from the bottom of my heart. You will never, ever find a better buy than the project that I’m working on now! And apart from that, you get my service. My service comes with every sale I make. And you can’t buy me online.”
What does that teach me about Peter’s approach? It teaches me nothing will ever shake his enthusiasm for his product.
Buyers are not persuaded by logic. They are persuaded by how well you can communicate your belief in your product and service.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
So... I recieved an awesome (and surprising) e-mail from Mr. Jim Coakley (the King of Kumon Branding) last week. In the e-mail, he offered me the opportunity to participate as a member of Kumon North America's Branding Advisory Committee. I am honored and humbled by this amazing opportunity, which I, of course, accepted!
Here is some addition information, as published in the April edition of "The Bridge":
"In the January-February 2010 edition of The Bridge, we announced the establishment of new subject-specific Instructor Advisory Committees in order to give distinct and focused attention to each of the many important components that go into operating Kumon Centers. (...) Selection of committee participants was based on a variety of factors, including recognition of the Instructors’ conviction in the Kumon philosophy and method, proven ability to implement the program and operate their businesses effectively, demonstrated interest and proficiency in the particular focus of the committee, and leadership skills. Committee members serve a one-year term and may be reappointed."
Branding Advisory Committee (BAC)
Arti Balakrishna ........................... (Southeast)
Kasia Braun ................................. (Northeast)
Marilyn Fenton ............................ (Canada East)
Bruce Fitterer ............................... (Northwest)
Sue McLean ................................ (Central)
Anne Parham ............................. (Southwest)
Hina Patel .................................... (Central East)
I'm a little intimidated about being included in this group of amazing, successful, experienced Instructors, but I am absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to share my experiences, learn from the group, and MAYBE provide some ideas/thoughts/suggestions as to how KNA will increase KUMON brand awareness in North America. Increased awareness and "top-of-mind" recognition will benefit all of us :-)
I'll keep you posted on the upcoming BAC happenings and am looking forward to visiting with my fellow Kumon Instructors this summer in NYC.
Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and "happy weekend" to everyone.
I hope you all experience something amazing today~
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Communication with Your Elementary Age Child
by Denis Waitley
In communicating with children of all ages, eye contact and physical contact are important. These should be part of our everyday dealings. A child whose parents use eye and physical contact will likely be more comfortable with himself and others, be a better communicator and have better self-esteem.
Eye contact, especially, is a little gesture whose presence or absence can covey big meaning. There’s surprisingly little eye contact in many households, and when it does exist, it’s usually negative, such as when the teen is being reprimanded. The more you can make eye contact in a loving way, the more your child will feel nourished.
You send several hundred verbal and nonverbal messages to your children each day. You don’t have to say a word to send a message to your child. You can turn off verbal communications, but not the nonverbal ones. Ninety-three percent of all communication is nonverbal. Parents under stress often withdraw from one another and from their children, and when they do communicate, it tends to be bossy and irritable.
First you listen, and then you talk. Decide that for you the conversation is going to be about listening. Devote your attention to what your son or daughter is saying, because kids are very good at detecting insincerity. Make it clear that you are listening and trying to understand your child’s point of view. When your child describes an event, repeat what you think your child has just said. You might say, “It sounds like you’re saying….” Don’t be too quick with advice. Pat answers imply that the child’s problem is too simple and maybe not significant. Listen while the child explores all aspects of the situation. Often, your child will talk himself or herself into the same solution you were eager to offer.
Stress to your child the importance of using positive, affirming language. Teach your child that his/her language is a reflection of his/her thoughts and attitudes. Also, that others will form attitudes about us, based in part on what they hear us say.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Four Words That Make Life Worthwhile
by Jim Rohn
Over the years, as I’ve sought out ideas, principles and strategies to life’s challenges, I’ve come across four simple words that can make living worthwhile.
First, life is worthwhile if you LEARN. What you don’t know will hurt you. You have to have learning to exist, let alone succeed. Life is worthwhile if you learn from your own experiences—negative or positive.
We learn to do it right by first sometimes doing it wrong. We call that a positive negative. We also learn from other people’s experiences, both positive and negative. I’ve always said that it is too bad failures don’t give seminars. Obviously, we don’t want to pay them, so they aren’t usually touring around giving seminars. But that information would be very valuable. We would learn how someone who had it all, messed it up. Learning from other people’s experiences and mistakes is valuable information because we can learn what not to do without the pain of having tried and failed ourselves.
We learn by what we see, so pay attention. We learn by what we hear, so be a good listener. Now, I do suggest that you should be a selective listener. Don’t just let anybody dump into your mental factory. We learn from what we read, so learn from every source. Learn from lectures. Learn from songs. Learn from sermons. Learn from conversations with people who care. Always keep learning.
Second, life is worthwhile if you TRY. You can’t just learn. Now you have to try something to see if you can do it. Try to make a difference. Try to make some progress. Try to learn a new skill. Try to learn a new sport. It doesn’t mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do if you just try. Try your best. Give it every effort. Why not go all out?
Third, life is worthwhile if you STAY. You have to stay from spring until harvest. If you have signed up for the day or for the game or for the project, see it through. Sometimes calamity comes; then it is worth wrapping it up and that’s the end. But just don’t end in the middle. Maybe on the next project you pass, but on this one, if you signed up, see it through.
And lastly, life is worthwhile if you CARE. If you care at all, you will get some results. If you care enough, you can get incredible results. Care enough to make a difference. Care enough to turn somebody around. Care enough to start a new enterprise. Care enough to change it all. Care enough to be the highest producer. Care enough to set some records. Care enough to win.
Four powerful little words: learn, try, stay and care.
What difference can you make in your life today by putting these words to work?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
When I read this "opinion" letter in the Albuquerque Journal, I truly thought I misunderstood what the author was trying to say. So I read it again. And then, one more time. THEN, I tore it out of the paper and showed it to my husband, because I still couldn't believe someone had written these words!!! Read it for yourself... But make sure you are sitting down :-)
Friday, February 05, 2010 - Albuquerque Journal
There's a Simple Reason Why Math Education Doesn't Add Up
I didn't like math when it was first presented to me well over half-a-century ago, and I still don't. And there is a very simple, non-scientific reason for it.
Numbers are boring. They have no intrinsic meaning. (Whatever meaning they do have usually tells you something you don't want to know, like what is lacking in your checkbook.)
Think about it. You can take a set of numbers, scramble them around in any order you want, even add in some letters for good measure (usually "x" and "y") and still — you don't have anything interesting.
But letters — that is another matter altogether.
You put letters in a certain order, and voila! You get words! Words have meaning! Words can be placed in an infinite number of combinations and you get stories, even literature. Stories can you make you laugh, or cry, and most importantly, for students, they can make you want to keep turning pages to see what happens next.
I cannot recall a single instance in my life when numbers have ever given me the desire to keep turning pages to see what happens next.
Why should this be such a difficult concept for educators to understand?
Monday, February 22, 2010
"We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service."
— Earl Nightingale, Motivational speaker and author
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Don't you love my water bottles? Would you believe I paid less than $1.00 per bottle, including set-up, printing, and shipping?
Some of the teachers who are employed at my Center encouraged me to "back away" from frisbees and focus on water bottles. Why? Students can bring them to school! (Smart ladies I have working for me, right???) I give these bottles to all students who come in for placement testing, provide them to students to bring to their classmates on their birthday (with a Kumon brochure, of course), and use them as prizes for students "playing" the number board at the festivals and fairs I attend.
I bought these bottles from Print Globe ( www.printglobe.com ). The actual bottles, as well as pricing, can be seen here.
Here's the BEST part! For a limited time, Print Globe is offering all Kumon Instructors an additional savings of $25.00 off any order of $200.00 or more! Simply contact my favorite Print Globe Account Representative, John Bryan, at email@example.com and mention that you are a Kumon Instructor and saw this offer on my blog. The savings offer can be used on any items purchased from Print Globe.
Note: I have not been compensated in any way by Print Globe or John Bryan for posting this offer. I am strictly posting this as an incentive to my fellow Instructors to increase Kumon brand awareness, at a reasonable price, within their communities.
Have an amazing day~
Monday, February 15, 2010
I hope these make you smile...
TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America .
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America ?
TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.
TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it. (I love this kid)
TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
DONALD: H I J K L M N O.
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.
TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.
TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.
TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with 'I.'
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right... 'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.' ________________________________
TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it.. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand.
TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.
TEACHER: Clyde , your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, sir. It's the same dog.
TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher.
Children are amazing... And funny!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Recently, a new thread appeared on the Kumon Instructor's forum in regard to creating a decorative wall to recognize student achievement. Here's the original post:
"I (am) thinking of doing a wall decoration of Math and Reading study levels with the students' names placed on the corresponding study levels. I am hoping that would motivate my students to work harder and see their names move up, but am also concerned that may be a cause of embarrasment for some students (such as older students with low starting levels). Can anyone offer advice? Thanks."
As I am a huge fan of this concept, I (of course) responded to her request for advice with this post:
"The 'Wall of Success' in the parent waiting are at my Center includes only student names (no age or grade references). As students pass each achievement test, they move their own "dot" up to the next level. (The dots are attached to the wall using poster putty, so they are easy to straighten after class.)
We add sparkley star stickers around the perimeter of each child's dot for each time they achieve ASHR. Gx5 students get a special border around their dots, as do students completing Level J.
I have not had any of my older students express any concerns about the dot wall. On the contrary, they are very excited about moving their dots up to where their friends are as quickly as possible... Many supportive conversations between older students have also occured, such as "Oh yeah. I remember starting in Level A, too. You can do a lot of Level A pages in 20 minutes! Just wait until you get to Level G. It will be SO easy for you!"
I hope this information encourages you to create your own 'Wall of Success'. Ours is a very motivating tool for both students and parents."
Since I my response was published on Monday afternoon, I have received over 50 e-mail requests for pictures!!! So... I'm posting theme here :-)
Here's a closer look at the borders around the dots of my Gx5 students. If you look closely, you'll also see some ASHR stars on many of the student's dots. (The red text is a note that even my staff members have dots!)
Several other Instructors also posted responses to the original request for advice. I would love to see pictures of everyone's "Wall of Success" ideas. If you send me your pictures, I'll be happy to post them.
Wishing you an amazing day!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
As you know, I have some pretty serious growth goals for 2010. Kumon, as a whole, is encouraging Instructors to increase enrollment at each Center to 200 students. I'm anxious to see how KNA will support instructors in reaching this number, but also know the ball is in my court in regard to increasing enrollment and profits at my Center.
I took some notes on an article I read, a while back, on how we tend to be our own worst enemy when it comes to achieving our dreams for our businesses. (Sorry, I took notes in a notebook and did not jot down the source. Shame on me!) Anyway, here's a bit of what I wrote and my current thoughts on this subject.
Read on, friends...
I am busy. I am trying to get a lot done. Sometimes my little, overloaded, brain goes to a "dark place" that limits my outcome and my opportunities before I even begin a project. I find myself setting expectations that are OK, rather than figuring out what it is I really want. Is what I really want "practical"? Has my focus on practicality (is that a word?) given me tunnel-vision in that I might not be seeing some "hidden" opportunities or buried treasures? Are those opportunies really hidden or am I ignoring them because I don't feel I have the tools to take advantage of them?
I think that if we approach a situation focused on what isn't possible, what we can't afford, or what might not occur, if we narrow our expectations because of our weight, our age, or "the economy", or anything else, we are almost guaranteed to have a very different outcome than if we approach a situation with our ultimate goal in mind.
If we don't allow ourselves to think about what we really want to achieve, it is easy to live in a world that is limited by our "practical mindset" or by expectations and limitations created by others. This prevents growth.
If we don't "remove our blinders", open our minds, and allow ourselves to explore what we really want, we might miss incredible possibilities. On the other hand, if we start a project with a vision of our true goal, it's not unusual to find the buried treasure and, sometimes, even the golden shovel to unearth it! Sometimes we actually find treasure that appears right before our eyes.
Reach for your dreams.
Don't limit yourself.
Remove your blinders and open your mind.
Achieve your full potential.
What would I do if I believed anything was possible?
Monday, February 8, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
I just subscribed to "Success Magazine" I wish I had done it a long time ago :-) The articles and resources available through this site are invaluable tools for small business owners... Especially KUMON Instructors!
Please continue reading for a great article on social media...
To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Expert Tips about Using Social Media
The tools being trumpeted as paving the new road to riches—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogging—depend on fundamentals common to most good business plans: People buy things from companies they like, trust, remember or that provide them with value. All this is happening in a new way as social media transforms how people make connections and do business. “We can be more intimate with our marketplace, customers and peers,” explains Mari Smith, president of the International Social Media Association. “Consumers are developing the expectation that companies are going to be more available and respond more quickly, that people are listening.”
But social media comprises just one piece of an overall marketing pie, say practitioners, who stress that it must be planned and executed well to be successful.
With social media now part of the mainstream, many businesspeople feel peer and media pressure to dive in—especially with Twitter, which is essentially a global chat room of influencers—without knowing why or what they’re doing there.
“You have to know what your objective is,” Smith says. “A lot of people come to me and ask how they can make money on Facebook or Twitter. They are looking at it as sort of an ATM. But these are mediums, platforms or vehicles we can use to get our message out there, not a whole lot different than using traditional tools—buying an ad in a magazine or on TV, and radio spots, public speaking or press releases.”
Getting started with social media means getting educated, which can begin with a simple Internet search. “The online community has all the answers; all you have to do is type in the question, and the answer is there,” says Gary Vaynerchuk, who used social media to build his family’s retail wine business and promote his own video blog called Wine Library TV.
An entrepreneur or small-business owner can also learn a great deal studying how corporate trendsetters—Kodak, Dell Computers, Ford Motor Company and Starbucks, for example—use blogs, Facebook fan pages, Twitter and YouTube to promote their companies. (Kodak also offers a useful Social Media Tips guide in PDF at blogs.Kodak.com.)
Hiring a coach or expert in the field is another possible approach, but doing due diligence is essential (a glut of candidates is clamoring to help—a recent Google search of social media experts offered 92.4 million hits).
Smith advises any businessperson just getting started with social media to get out there on Google Search or sign up for TweetBeep alerts, and listen to the conversations going on about the company or the company’s specific market. Doing so can help gauge how people feel about your products, company and competitors.
Vaynerchuk suggests going to different forums and blogs, using Twitter and Facebook, searching keywords related to your business, then engaging in virtual handshakes and leaving comments. He shares an example of his own experience: “I videotaped the Wine Library TV show for 20 minutes, put it up on the WordPress blogging site, and spent the next 18 hours going to every wine forum and blog and leaving comments about everybody else’s comments. Essentially, I went to the places where other bloggers were blogging and started conversing. They became my initial fan base. That was it. It was not overly complicated. It’s about putting out content that’s relevant and good, then spending all the time possible in different places where your subject matter is discussed and becoming part of those communities.”
Experts agree that success with social media requires a commitment. “Understand that once you write the blog post or leave a comment on a wall, that’s when your work begins, not when it ends,” says Vaynerchuk, who estimates it takes six to 24 months of using social media before seeing results.
In addition to the time commitment, Smith stresses the importance of posting consistently and offering relevant content. “In a really beautiful way, it’s about leadership: When you have people following you, whether that’s hundreds or hundreds of thousands or a million, you have a great responsibility to provide them with quality content and lead them with integrity.”
Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak chief marketing officer and vice president, says using social media needs to be a core part of what and who you are. “Don’t just step into it with a splash and fade away—step into it, own it and continue to do it,” he says.
Experts offer these additional tips to effectively using social media:
Be passionate. “Passion always beats skill. Realize that it’s the passion in your subject matter that will engage,” Vaynerchuk says.
“It’s hard to convey passion in 140 characters on Twitter,” Hayzlett says, “but if you are consistent, people begin to see that you are deep, not shallow. That’s what small businesses have to do as well.”
Be real. “Authenticity and transparency are critical in social media,” Smith says. For example, she says the robust culture that successful online entrepreneur Tony Hsieh has developed at Zappos.com includes the following Twitter training message for employees, who each have their own Twitter accounts: Be authentic and use your best judgment.
Forget the old hard sales pitch. “Nobody on the Web wants to hear it, and people will tune you out,” Vaynerchuk says. “Listen; don’t pitch. If you’re selling flowers and are chatting about them to a potential client, instead of saying, ‘Hey, buy my flowers,’ listen to one of those looking for advice about a specific flower and help her out. Your knowledge and honesty is what will give you an audience.”
Don’t overthink. “People just want you to communicate with them. They’re not necessarily obsessed with grammar or sentence structure,” Vaynerchuk says.
Always be marketing. “Every single thing I do markets myself, whether I’m chitchatting with a friend or working with a client,” Smith says. “Oprah could be reading my tweets and trying to decide whether to have me on her show right now. I’m always cognizant of that.”
As with any tool, social media needs to be studied, evaluated and put to use as part of a broader business plan. But veterans say the time for developing that process is now.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wouldn't it be great if families could use their FSA funds to pay for their Kumon tution? Many thanks to Matt Lupsha and his amazing Kumon support staff for attending this meeting and supporting this act.
I'll do must best to keep everyone up-to-date on on the future of this bill.
Pascrell Bill Will Help Families With Tutoring Costs
February 1, 2010
Virginia Citrano (myveronanj.com)
Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) came to the Sylvan Learning Center in Verona today to talk about a new bill that could help middle-class families cut the cost of after-school tutoring.
Pascrell’s bill, The Affordable Tutoring for Our Children Act, would allow families to use their dependent-care flexible-spending accounts to pay for services like those provided by Sylvan and competitors Huntington Learning Center and Kumon North America just the way they have used them to pay for after-school child care.
While wealthy families have little trouble paying for tutoring and there is financial assistance for low-income families, middle-class households have had to foot the entire bill themselves. If Pascrell’s measure becomes law, families earning less than $110,000 could use the pre-tax dollars in their FSAs, saving about $250 for every $1,000 in tutoring costs paid. The money could be used for both regular coursework tutoring and college test prep classes, but only at a state-certified institution. The tutoring expenses would, however, be subject to a combined $5,000 cap with dependent care expenses, a potential disadvantage to families already using their accounts to pay for child care.
“At some point, almost every child needs extra help in academics,” said Pascrell, who taught high school for 12 years before his Congressional career. “But middle-class families can’t afford it, and they can’t qualify for help.”
Verona parent Andrew D’Addio, whose children A.J. and Jordan have been Sylvan students, spoke in favor of the measure. “This is a common cause that everybody can get behind”, he said. “We were able to use our FSA for dependent care when the kids were little and it would be nice to take advantage of it now for their education.”
Pascrell seemed optimistic about the bill’s chances of being enacted, since it is revenue-neutral and already has bipartisan support. He also held out hope that, down the road, there could be similar assistance to self-employed families and those without workplace FSAs. “There is no more important investment,” said Pascrell, “than in our kids.”
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
CONGRESSMAN PASCRELL ANNOUNCES LEGISLATION AIMED AT MAKING TUTORING SERVICES AVAILABLE TO MORE CHILDREN
Pascrell joins local residents at tutoring center to unveil his Affordable Tutoring for Our Children Act (H.R. 4391)
VERONA – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) today met with Eighth District constituents, leaders of after-school tutoring organizations, as well as student and parents, to announce the introduction of his legislation aimed at making tutoring available to more students.
“President Obama made clear right away in his State of the Union address that he understands exactly what the struggle of the working class family in America is -- as he said it is ‘the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college,’” said Pascrell, a former educator and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“At some point almost every child needs extra help in academics, but not every family can afford extra tutoring for their child if that is what they need. By allowing employers to amend their dependent care benefits to include after-school tutoring, I hope my legislation can be another tool parents can use to ensure young people are more successful in school and life.”
Financial help is available for low-income households, and upper-income households are able to pay for tutoring. But middle-class families neither qualify for federal assistance nor can afford tutoring.
The Affordable Tutoring for Our Children Act (H.R. 4391) would allow employers to amend their Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to include after-school tutoring services. Under present law, dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts cannot pay educational expenses unless the primary purpose is day care or an afterschool athletic camp. The legislation has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee for consideration.
In order to qualify for this bill’s benefit, the services must be provided after school and in core academic subjects -- civics and government; economics; arts; social studies; science; math; English; reading, language; and geography.
The bill includes costs of preparing for college entrance exams.
Also, to guarantee that this benefit is not abused, the supplemental tutoring must be provided by a state-certified instructor or by a state- recognized or privately accredited organization.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
GIRLS MAY LEARN MATH ANXIETY FROM FEMALE TEACHERS
By Randolph E. Schmid
WASHINGTON — Little girls may learn to fear math from the women who are their earliest teachers.
Despite gains in recent years, women still trail men in some areas of math achievement, and the question of why has provoked controversy. Now, a study of first- and second-graders suggests what may be part of the answer: Female elementary school teachers who are concerned about their own math skills could be passing that along to the little girls they teach.
Young students tend to model themselves after adults of the same sex, and having a female teacher who is anxious about math may reinforce the stereotype that boys are better at math than girls, explained Sian L. Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago.
Beilock and colleagues studied 52 boys and 65 girls who in classes taught by 17 different teachers. Ninety percent of U.S. elementary school teachers are women, as were all of those in this study.
Student math ability was not related to teacher math anxiety at the start of the school year, the researchers report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
But by the end of the year, the more anxious teachers were about their own math skills, the more likely their female students — but not the boys — were to agree that “boys are good at math and girls are good at reading.”
In addition, the girls who answered that way scored lower on math tests than either the classes’ boys or the girls who had not developed a belief in the stereotype, the researchers found.
“It’s actually surprising in a way, and not. People have had a hunch that teachers could impact the students in this way, but didn’t know how it might do so in gender-specific fashion,” Beilock said in a telephone interview.
Beilock, who studies how anxieties and stress can affect people’s performance, noted that other research has indicated that elementary education majors at the college level have the highest levels of math anxiety of any college major.
“We wanted to see how that impacted their performance,” she said.
After seeing the results, the researchers recommended that the math requirements for obtaining an elementary education teaching degree be rethought.
“If the next generation of teachers — especially elementary school teachers — is going to teach their students effectively, more care needs to be taken to develop both strong math skills and positive math attitudes in these educators,” the researchers wrote.
Janet S. Hyde, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the study a “great paper, very clever research.”
“It squares with an impression I’ve had for a long time,” said Hyde, who was not part of the research team.
Hyde was lead author of a 2008 study showing women gaining on men in math skills but still lagging significantly in areas such as physics and engineering.
Girls who grow up believing females lack math skills wind up avoiding harder math classes, Hyde noted.
“It keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology,” she said.
Beilock did note that not all of the girls in classrooms with math-anxious teachers fell prey to the stereotype, but “teachers are one source,” she said.
Teacher math anxiety was measured on a 25-question test about situations that made them anxious, such as reading a cash register receipt or studying for a math test. A separate test checked the math skills of the teachers, who worked in a large Midwestern urban school district.
Student math skills were tested in the first three months of the school year and again in the last two months of the year.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Monday, February 1, 2010
"The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams."
The Greatest Salesman in the World
Monday, January 25, 2010
"You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don't win, at least you can be satisfied that you've tried. If you don't accept failure as a possibility, you don't set high goals, you don't branch out, you don't try – you don't take the risk."
Former First Lady and author
Saturday, January 23, 2010
When families are faced with economic challenges, they are allowed the opportunity to rethink their priorities and reconsider their investments. I believe that investing in their children's education is the greatest no-risk/high-return is the best investment they can make.
It looks like many families feel the same way.
Here is a great article written about a Kumon center in Norman, Oklahoma, USA. I have had the pleasure of chatting with Mauricio via e-mail. He is an amazing and motivated Kumon Instructor. I am so happy his Center is thriving... And also glad to be the owner of my own growing Kumon Center.
LEARNING CENTER GROWS DESPITE ECONOMY
By Andrew Knittle, The Norman Transcript
January 23, 2010
Even though a lot of companies are struggling through the recession and just trying to survive, the Kumon Math and Reading Center in Norman -- which opened in the early stages of economic slowdown two years ago -- is actually thriving.
Mauricio Maruri, owner and certified instructor at the learning center, said he believes his business is succeeding because of a void in the Norman market.
"Norman didn't really have anything like this when we opened," Maruri said. "It shows that Norman residents really value education-oriented products."
Kumon, a 50-year-old Japanese company that operates in 46 countries, isn't tutoring, Maruri said, because children enrolled in the program don't work on course material they're covering in school.
"Our goal is to have them working above grade level," he said. "Because they're actually ahead of schedule, it is easy for them. That's the cool thing about the program."
Kumon centers, which cover only math and reading, let participants work at their own pace, and Maruri said it's not unusual to see children ranging from 3 to 17 years old sitting next to each other working on completely different materials.
"We use a mix of teaching tools, for sure," he said. "It's a highly individualized program."
Maruri said there are more than 1,200 Kumon centers nationwide, including six in Oklahoma City and four in Tulsa, and that many of them would be happy to serve 200 students after being open for a few years. He said his location serves 250.
"We've been very blessed so far to grow at a very healthy pace, despite the recession," Maruri said. "Many Kumon centers nationwide have actually seen a decline in their enrollment."
(For the rest of the article, please click here.)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
November 2009: 119 students
December 2009: 128 students
WOW! December is historically a slow month, but this year proved to be different. We were crazy busy. No complaints here, though :-)
The New Year is off to a great start!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
As my Kumon Math & Reading Center continues to grow, I am faced with the challenge of creating a new staff position (Student Coordinator) and then finding the right person to fill it.
So... I posted the following ad on Craig's List on Monday night at 10:00pm:
Kumon Math & Reading Center of Rio Rancho is currently accepting applications for the position of “Student Coordinator”. The primary functions of this part-time, entry-level position include all front office duties (student check-in, answering phones, parent communication, data entry) and worksheet management, as well as some community outreach opportunities.
The ideal candidate for this position will possess:
-a professional appearance and demeanor
-a friendly and positive attitude
-a commitment to both education and customer service
-strong communication skills with both children and adults
-unwavering attention to detail
-the ability to multi-task and work independently
-a willingness to learn about the Kumon program
-the patience of a Saint
-a sense of humor
Applicants for this position must be available to work on Mondays from 3:00-8:00, Wednesdays from 1:30-7:30, and Saturdays from 10:30-2:30. Additional hours may become available after training.
Applicants must be able to pass a complete background check.
Please submit a letter of interest and resume to xxxxxx at xxxx dot com. Applications will accepted through January 13, 2010.
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OK. I originally had an end date of January 22, but I had to change it. Why? By 10:00pm the next night I had TWENTY-TWO resumes in my inbox!!!
I'm glad that that so many people are interested in working at my Center. I am hopeful that the "just right" candidate in somewhere in the mix. But, goodness! It's like going into a 31-Flavors and having to choose only one scoop of ice cream...
Conducting interviews is NOT on my list of favorite things to do, but I know it is an important part of running my business. I will be sorting through the resumes this weekend and will be conducting interviews next week. I'll keep you posted on the process.
Do something amazing today~
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Entrepreneur Magazine Ranks Kumon No. 1 Tutoring Franchise
TEANECK, N.J.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Kumon, the world’s largest after-school education company, ranks No. 1 in the tutoring category in Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500 list for the ninth consecutive year. The company attracts entrepreneurs with a desire to help children unlock their full potential so they can achieve more on their own. Kumon plans to open 200 new centers across the country this year.
“Kumon parents often make the best franchisees”
“Kumon parents often make the best franchisees,” says Mr. Hideki Kusuzawa, president of Kumon North America. “They experience the value of the program and decide Kumon is a smart business opportunity.”
For the first time in the company’s history, enrollment in the first cycle of training at Kumon University increased by 75 percent. Many of these candidates left the corporate world seeking a more rewarding career helping children. Kumon is an ideal business for those seeking flexibility. The center is usually open two or three times a week during after-school hours, and other than class times and monthly trainings, the full-time work schedule is determined by the business owner.
Kumon franchisees must have a four-year college degree, be proficient in math and reading and have an investment capital of $50,000 and a net-worth of at least $150,000. Strong communication skills, strong business acumen and a belief that all children can reach their full potential and study advanced materials independently are essential to running a successful Kumon franchise. The total investment to begin operation of a center ranges from $32,958 to $131,070, which includes the $1,000 franchise fee and $1,000 materials fee.
Market Trends and Kumon Expansion Plans:
The Mid-Atlantic region is the fastest growing area in the United States with a 12 percent growth rate. In 2009, 10 new centers opened, half of those were in the District of Columbia suburbs. The region continues to expand, with seven trainees scheduled to open centers in 2010. The candidates are primarily Kumon mothers who see the value of the program and want to help children in their communities. In Charlotte, North Carolina, 100 percent of the openings were former banking managers seeking a more rewarding career.
The Southwest continues to grow at a rapid pace. In the last 18 months, Kumon opened 12 new centers in the region contributing to a significant growth in enrollment. The newest centers to open in Sandy, Utah, and Aurora, Colorado have grown at the fastest rate of any centers in Kumon’s history and are the top performing new centers in North America. Utah continues to be a state with enormous potential with only two centers.
Southern California also continues to grow. In the last few months, three new centers opened in the San Fernando Valley and nine new centers will open in the Los Angeles area this year. The candidates are from a variety of backgrounds including medicine, information technology and finance.
Layoffs are helping Kumon find more candidates in Northern California and Nevada. In the last three years, 22 franchisees entered the Kumon system. Sacramento and Marin Counties have enormous potentials for growth, including in Corte Madera, Fairfax, Novato and Mill Valley. Carson City and Washoe County are prime locations for opening Kumon Centers.
In the Northwest, successful moms with young children are leaving corporate careers with long commutes and traditional working schedules for the freedom of owning their own business with flexible hours. These women come from different backgrounds in finance, engineering, teaching and the Air Force, but they all share a passion for children and helping their communities. In the past five years, the Northwest has opened 13 centers and has aggressive expansion plans to open in North and South Sound and Spokane, Washington and Boise, Idaho.
In the Midwest, a different trend is emerging. Recently, five Kumon fathers opened centers. The franchisees came from the legal and engineering fields, and were seeking a new challenging career. In 2009, six franchises opened in Illinois and this number is expected to double in 2010. Aggressive expansion plans are underway in Minneapolis as the market shows tremendous potential.
The Northeast is the second fastest growing area with a 6.66 percent growth rate. Four years ago, Kumon had only opened two new centers north of Boston but in 2009, the company opened four new centers. The franchisees are all Kumon parents with backgrounds in education or engineering, with a strong desire to help society as well as their own children’s development. New Jersey recently opened two new centers and has seven candidates in training. The franchisees are parents with engineering or technology backgrounds, who want to open a business that will benefit the community.
In the South, new trainees influenced by the slow economy are opening centers to help children and pursue their lifetime dream of being their own boss. Arkansas is an emerging market for those who aspire to work with children. Centers opened in Little Rock, Fort Smith, Bentonville and Lowell and a new center will open in Fayetteville. There are opportunities for five more centers in the Little Rock area. Texas is also a growing market with 20 trainees already scheduled to open in 2010. Just in 2009, five centers opened in Houston and four in Dallas. San Antonio also shows enormous potential.
Hawaii has the strongest U.S. brand awareness and market penetration at 5.4 percent. The greatest opportunity for expansion is in Kauai. Hawaii is a bit different from the mainland in that centers are allowed to open in schools or other non-commercial locations making it an even more economically feasible franchise opportunity.
Kumon currently has 1,600 franchises in the United States, Canada and Mexico and more than 500 employees in 20 North American cities. Parents interested in learning more about Kumon can contact 1-800-ABC-MATH, and those interested in learning more about Kumon’s franchise opportunities can contact: 1-866-633-0740 or visit www.kumon.com/franchise.
About Kumon Math and Reading Centers
Kumon [Koo-mon] is an after-school math and reading program that unlocks the potential of children so they can achieve more on their own. The learning method uses a systematic individualized approach that helps children develop a solid command of math and reading skills. Through daily practice and mastery of materials, students increase confidence, improve concentration and develop better study skills. Kumon has 26,000 Kumon Centers in 46 countries and more than four million students studying worldwide.
Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500 list is the world’s first, best and most comprehensive franchise ranking. Kumon ranked No. 12 overall in the list of 500 franchises evaluated.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Recently, I came across the blog of a fellow Kumon Instructor from Ontario, Canada. While she shares a wealth of information about the Kumon Method and tips for student success in the program, what blew me away was the creativity she used in having her students design their own medals for her Awards Ceremonies! Take a look...