I found this interesting article on the abacus. Who knew just how important an old mathematical tool could be?
Ancient Asian Calculating Tool May Hold Key To Boosting Children’s Mental Math Skills
A growing number of American educators and concerned parents are looking for ways to help children develop the math skills necessary to succeed in the careers of the future.
In Asia, many schools have rediscovered the secrets of the abacus, an ancient calculating device that offers remarkable benefits for nurturing young minds and encouraging proficiency in mathematics and mental calculation. With abacus instruction, children can achieve much more than just excellent math skills. Abacus use can build confidence, provide a sense of achievement, promote intuitive thinking, enhance problem-solving capability, stimulate creativity, and improve concentration and mental endurance.
Educators in Asia say abacus skills are a key reason children in these countries consistently win top rankings in international math comparisons. Many schools in Asia, where abacus instruction is widely popular for teaching mental math/arithmetic, introduce the abacus between kindergarten and 4th grade.
U.S. Student Math Performance Lags Behind Asia
In 2003, U.S. performance in mathematics literacy and problem solving was lower than average among OECD (Organization for Education and Cooperative Development) countries. Korea and Japan ranked at or near the top in problem solving and combined math literacy.
In the United States, abacus instruction is catching in some schools as well as among parents who home-school their children.
They realize that math proficiency gives students. a competitive edge and prepares them for tomorrow’s highly selective job marketplace. Most new jobs in the U.S. require good math and science skills, and abacus instruction is geared to helping children master mental math/arithmetic at an early age.
Abacus training also keeps children from becoming overly dependent on electronic calculating tools for simple arithmetic – a problem that worries teachers.
The abacus is an excellent substitute for rote memorization of multiplication tables. Abacus calculation relies on the manipulation of beads rather than use of traditional arithmetic. It teaches children to visualize numbers and their relationships and placement values.
Abacus Stimulates Whole Brain Development
When children use both hands to move the abacus beads to perform arithmetic calculations, there is quick communication between the hands and the brain that stimulates both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This promotes rapid, balanced whole brain development.
If a child starts learning the abacus before being taught traditional arithmetic, there is minimal conflict and the child will easily work within both systems. If a child starts the program later, having already received traditional foundations, there may be a slightly extended learning period for the child to accept and integrate the abacus method.
A popular abacus program is available through Fairfax, Virginia-based NurtureMinds.com, which offers books containing simple step-by-step instructions that make learning the abacus fun for children. This set of books, Learning Mathematics with the Abacus, was developed specifically for teaching youngsters in grades 2, 3 and 4 how to master mental math/arithmetic with the abacus. The site also offers the Japanese Soroban abacus, which consists of a wooden frame divided into 2 parts separated by a beam, with one row of beads on the upper deck, and four rows on the lower deck.
Japanese Educators Hail Abacus Training
In Japan, educators maintain that the abacus helps children develop powers of mental calculation. It enables children to:
understand the base-ten number system and place values,
understand concepts of carrying and borrowing in arithmetic, and
visualize close relations between numbers and numerals..
Learning Mathematics with the Abacus is available in the United States exclusively through NurtureMinds.com. Beginners use the Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 1 textbook and activity book to start adding and subtracting numbers up to 100. They start by identifying the different parts of the abacus, holding and using it correctly, mastering the correct fingering technique in moving the beads, and learning to visualize as they calculate.
Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 2 focuses on addition and subtraction of numbers up to 1,000, and develops multiplication and division skills.
Activities in these books have been carefully designed and structured by a panel of academicians, curriculum specialists and instructional designers to ensure that pupils not only learn mathematics effectively, but also develop the ability to perform mental calculations.
These books are used by tens of thousands of students in Malaysia and many other nations, where they are regarded as the best abacus learning books for children on the market.
Parents and educators can visit the NutureMinds.com website to find out more about why these books are becoming increasingly popular in many countries like Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and elsewhere. They have become valuable abacus teaching tools in schools, tuition centers and community centers, and are used by home-schooling parents around the world. The website offers free downloads from the books.
For additional information on the abacus instruction program, please visit NurtureMinds.com
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Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus
publisher: Melissa and Doug
sales rank: 442
price: $6.99 (new)
Isn’t it amazing how sometimes the old becomes new?!?
Have a great day!