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How to Teach Your Kids Abacus

by on 23/05/2018 596

What's An Abacus

Abacus is a calculating tool that can be used to perform basic mathematics, such as addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Abacuses are commonly made of various types of hardwoods. The various parts of the abacus are typically identified as the bamboo frame, the beam, and rods.

The frame is divided by a horizontal beam into two sections known as the upper deck and the lower deck. There are three major types of abacus: the Japanese, Chinese and Russian abacus. Most Malaysians are but users of the Japanese abacus, popularly known as Soroban.

How Does A Soroban/Abacus Work

  1. Each column in the upper deck should have one bead. Each bead carries a value of 5

  2. Each column in the lower deck should have four beads. Each bead carries a value of 1

  3. The abacus is set to zero when all beads in both upper and lower decks are pushed away from the beam

  4. The beads are considered counted when they're pushed towards the beam

  5. The columns to the left of any columns on both decks are counted as ten times bigger. The columns to the right on both decks is ten times smaller

  6. Soroban/Abacus uses the decimal system. "A system of measurement or currency in which the basic units increase by powers of 10"

  7. This informative video here, explains it perfectly how to use an Abacus

Abacus For Kids: Get Started

Apart from alphabet learning, where kids are taught to recognise letters and sounds, counting is also regarded as an important addition to the early childhood education. What makes Abacus an interesting calculating tool is because it offers a hands-on and engaging introductory experience for preschoolers to get started at learning maths.

This is because Abacus offers an imaginative visual experience that helps kids to better understand mathematics at its most basic. What's more, it isn't boring. With Abacus, it feels more like "playing" whilst attempting to solve a mathematical problem. Learning activities can be far effective if when they were perceptible by touch and fun because naturally, most kids tend to enjoy learning through play.

What this means is, Abacus can be a smart choice for parents who wanted to introduce the first few symbols of number and mathematics to their kids. According to the research, children make use of up to 30% of their energy and time to just play. It's therefore crucial that learning and playing are to be combined so that the learning can be as enjoyable and effective as it can be.

Counting Made Easy

Soroban/Abacus uses the decimal system. Many educators are of the opinion that children find mathematics fairly easy and exciting to learn when they're calculated based on a decimal system. What's more, it's far easier to perform calculations in 5's and 10's. Using a physical calculating tool to perform basic mathematics not only helps kids visualise but also encourages them to stay motivated and positive towards their study. Understanding the number concepts through Soroban/Abacus is far more entertaining and engaging than studying them using just pencils and paper.

How To Use An Abacus For Kids

Before you get them to learn complex maths such as addition, subtraction, multiplication or more, teach them how to use the Abacus itself. Here are two simple methods:

Method 1: Follow my move:
  1. Place your abacus on a flat surface and push all the beads away from the beam

  2. Start in the upper deck, move some of the beads towards the beam

  3. Do the same on the lower deck

  4. Now, ask your kid to follow what you did. Same amount of beads and same direction

  5. To ensure that your kid doesn't get bored, go for different bead moving patterns

  6. Repeat

Method 2: Counting:
  1. Follow all the steps in method 1, but this time, ask them to carefully count the beads as they move them

Benefits Of Teaching Abacus To Kids

Besides improving the overall comprehension of mathematics, here are some of the other cognitive benefits of abacus maths:

  1. Sharpens one's mind

  2. Improves endurance for pressure and stress

  3. Boosts confidence and self-esteem

  4. Improves problem-solving skills

  5. Povides a solid learning foundation for maths

  6. Helps develop a photographic memory

The Bottom Line

Let's be frank here, most kids just don't like maths. Many adults hate it too. For kids, maths is boring and difficult. For adults, they had uninteresting maths teachers. Maybe. They have a love-hate relationship with the subject. Who knows. So, how do we avoid this from happening? How can we get our kids interested in learning maths? How do we make maths learning more interesting? The answer is Abacus maths. Regardless of what domain of knowledge we're discussing here, it goes without saying that having the right learning tools in early childhood development is important. How we choose to introduce these subjects to kids determines how they perceive them in the future.