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Use Your Fingers: The Abacus Just Might Improve Your Arithmetic Abilities

2016-09-26 Hits 5675

Chinese abacus

When I was a kid learning arithmetic the only visual aid I remember is flash cards. These were useful for memorizing single-digit addition and multiplication, but is memorization really the best approach? It’s one approach, to be sure, and in the end, with enough practice, most people are able to internalize these facts. But could there be a better way?

According to a recent paper in Child Development, the ancient abacus may hold the key. Well, not the abacus itself, but a technique called the mental abacus, in which people visualize the moving beads as they perform arithmetical operations. A team of psychologists ran an experiment with children aged 5 to 7 in a school in India to see how teaching this technique affected their abilities to calculate.

After a test to obtain a baseline on the students’ abilities, they were divided into two groups. One group received three hours per week of abacus instruction (the physical abacus in the first year and then the mental version in subsequent years), while the other group received three hours per week of supplemental math tutoring using standard teaching practices. This was over and above their regular school work. The study ran for three years, and at the end the students were tested again.


The result? The students who got the abacus instruction posted higher gains in their ability to calculate, do arithmetic, and understand place values than the control group. They also earned slightly better grades in math and science in school. The abacus did not, however, lead to bigger gains in cognitive ability, nor did it have any effect on math anxiety.

I’m not surprised by these results, especially the fact that the abacus didn’t help students’ overall cognitive ability. Math is not simply calculation, despite what most people think of it. Mathematicians do not sit around crunching numbers all day; in fact, we often don’t deal with numbers at all. So while it might be good for some students to learn arithmetic in this manner, it is not necessarily going to lead to better performance in more advanced math classes later.


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Learning abacus makes you understand the concept of numbers and improves your mental arithmetic skills and basic arithmetic ability in a short period of time. Basically, math is limited to the area of the left brain responsible for logic languages. However, abacus arithmetic stimulates the visual, auditory and tactile without exception and actively helps the development of the right brain responsible for the artistic and sensory abilities as well as the left brain.

If you learn an abacus calculation, 9 things to be improved

​Calculation ability - Learning an abacus is a basic learning that goes into an outstanding math prodigy with excellent calculation ability
Concentration - It is very good learning methods to kids who lack of concentration and have no motivation
Patience-Very good habit in all learning and behavioral development
Positiveness -Different ages and schools can be the friends and always responsible students
Brain development - Brain develops while you enjoy brain development
Agility -Since learning the abacus moving your fingers, you have agility.
Arithmetic operation, mental arithmetic - You know the correct answers in mathematics without calculator 
Good posture -Since learning with correct posture, the correct posture is also strong, durable body and mental health
Number sense - Because you have excellent sense in number, you will show a remarkable ability in mathematics and life calculations.

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