Aliyyah Zafar is celebrating her one-year anniversary of the opening of the Ilford Lane study centre. We spoke to her to hear how the former Kumon student and class assistant went on to become a Kumon Instructor. She discussed how her 14-year, all-round experience with Kumon has allowed her to support her students and run a successful centre.
Aliyyah’s journey with Kumon began as a 13-year-old student at the Ilford Seven Kings study centre. After studying both the maths and English programmes for four years, Aliyyah worked as a class assistant and continued to do so while studying psychology at university. As a senior class assistant, she helped in all areas of the centre, including marking higher-level worksheets, working with early learners and eventually she was trained to carry out diagnostic tests. It was through her experience as a student and a class assistant that enabled Aliyyah to learn how the worksheets function, identify the strengths of the Kumon Method and understand the operations of running a Kumon class.
Aliyyah’s belief in the Kumon Method, having improved her own abilities through the programmes and working with students and witnessing their own growth, influenced her decision to become a Kumon Instructor. She said, “I wanted to provide students with the same positive learning experience I had with Kumon. I joined the Ilford Seven Kings centre when I was in Year 9 – At school I struggled with maths and I was quite slow at solving equations.
After a few years of studying the programmes, my skills improved, and my confidence quickly increased. I have a fond memory of the very moment I realised the impact Kumon study was having on me. In school, we were given a task to solve algebraic equations and I completed the task in three minutes. When I looked up, everyone else was still working away.
I managed to finish my work much faster than any of my peers! This proved to me how far I had come and how well the programmes complement school curricula and provide students with the tools they need to excel. As a class assistant, I observed similar progress from students. Who knew 13 years later I would be building my own business, helping other students overcome their own challenges in maths and English?”
Aliyyah took over the Epping study centre from another Instructor in 2017. Commenting on her career shift, Aliyyah said “I heard about the franchise opportunity from my former Instructor, Henna. Working as a class assistant, I already had a good idea of how to run a class and so I was comfortable walking into this new chapter of my career. From taking over an existing centre at Epping, I have learned how to run a centre from a business point of view and enabled me to be prepared to open and build my new centre.”
In January 2019, Aliyyah opened the Ilford Lane study centre in Essex. She believes that her in-depth knowledge and first-hand experience of the programmes have allowed her to support her students in a very unique way; “As a former student and class assistant, I have a well-rounded approach to running my centre and I am able to put myself in the shoes of my students. I remember what it was like studying the programmes and I think back to what helped me overcome particular levels and certain areas of the worksheets. I can better understand them as individuals and make their time in class more useful, engaging and meaningful.”
Being part of and contributing to the community is very important to Aliyyah and is one of her favourite aspects about the role; “Helping students achieve their potential is very rewarding. I enjoy the moments when a child reaches that turning point - when the work they once found challenging finally clicks and they discover that they can in fact do it. It fills me up with joy, particularly when I hear about the great progress they are also making in school.”
In addition to helping students develop into confident learners, Aliyyah finds that the flexibility of the role is another major benefit of running a Kumon centre; “I am able to plan my day according to my schedule, which gives me plenty of opportunity to fulfil personal commitments.” She also mentions the continuous business and instructional support she is provided with. While Aliyyah is well-versed in the Kumon Method, she takes joy in knowing that as an Instructor, there is ample opportunity for her to continue to deepen her understanding through ongoing training and support, as well as learning from her own students.
Aliyyah’s advice to those who are considering becoming an Instructor is to “learn as much as possible about Kumon. Kumon is not a traditional tuition centre, and so it will benefit you to learn the foundations of the study programmes by immersing yourself in a Kumon-focused environment. This could include visiting Kumon centres, reviewing worksheets and perhaps volunteering at your local centre in your spare time. Doing this will allow you to understand how a centre operates and how Kumon students study.”
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Sarah was a full time maths teacher, and after seven years, she was keen to find a career that was both flexible and fulfilling.
I can organise my hours better, and I have more of a social life. I have really enjoyed it and haven’t looked back once. You hear a lot about education and I’m glad I’m making a difference. When students shine, the satisfaction is great.Chow Chan, Instructor of the Kumon Worcester, East Study Centre
I’ve always wanted a profession where I can make a difference. As a Physiotherapist, my core aim was to help people achieve the best health they could. Kumon’s aim is very similar: helping each child reach his or her potential. If you’re stuck with any aspect of running the business, you can always ask for help – I have an Area Manager who I can turn to for guidance.Dr Ivy Man, Instructor of the Kumon Southampton, Shirley Study Centre
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