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The Abacus: A Scientifically-Proven Learning Tool

UCMAS Canada
Blog Banner: Give your child the lifelong benefits of a strong math foundation
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The abacus, which has been in use for thousands of years in numerous nations, is the earliest known calculator. The abacus, however, is useful for more than simply basic math; it has intriguing educational and scientific benefits that persist to this day.

Improved Working Memory and Visualization

Multiple studies show that abacus training enhances working memory, visualization skills, and mental math abilities in children. A 2013 study compared Chinese and Taiwanese children who had received mental abacus instruction to those who had not. The abacus students showed markedly better performance on math tasks and tests of working memory.

Researchers posit that abacus training strengthens the brain’s visuospatial working memory. As students practice moving the beads and visualizing calculations, the neural pathways for this type of information processing are strengthened. This results in enhanced memory, concentration, and ability to compute math visually.

Higher Math Scores and Problem-Solving Skills

In addition to working memory gains, research shows abacus training leads to higher math scores. A 2016 analysis of dozens of studies found that abacus instruction had a statistically significant positive effect on children’s math achievement. The magnitude of the effect was larger than most other math interventions.

Abacus learners also develop superior problem-solving abilities and flexible thinking. As they gain math fluency through mental abacus practice, they can tackle more complex analytical tasks requiring systematic approaches. Instead of relying on rote memorization, abacus students utilize visual-spatial strategies to logically work through multi-step problems.

Benefits for Special Needs Students

Abacus instruction may provide particular benefits to students with special needs. A 2017 study found abacus training improved math skills and concentration in second graders with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The abacus group significantly outperformed the control group on arithmetic tests after one year of training.

Some researchers hypothesize that the methodical hand movements involved in abacus practice combined with visualizing calculations stimulate brain networks and encourage systematic thinking in students with ADHD. More research is needed, but preliminary findings suggest abacus training can be an effective intervention for special needs students.

Overcoming Misconceptions

When utilized properly, abacus math can be a tool to build mental math abilities, enhance working memory, and teach systematic problem-solving strategies.

Rather than replace traditional math education, abacus training complements and supports key cognitive skills. With proper instruction, the abacus can be used not just for simple calculations but as a visual problem-solving method applicable to higher math and science. Instead of writing it off, parents and educators should consider incorporating abacus learning to stimulate developing minds.

Key benefits of UCMAS Abacus

  • Enhanced visualization and spatial-temporal reasoning
  • Develops hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
  • Reinforces place value and mental math ability
  • Concrete representation of numbers benefits early math
  • Alternative modality complements written arithmetic
  • Improves working memory and focus

Studies support that abacus training

  • Improves math skills compared to standard instruction
  • Teaches numerical cognition concepts through bead manipulation
  • Ingrains basic math facts through tangible bead movements
  • Develops concentration and mental discipline through practice
  • Strengthens visual working memory to do calculations mentally
  • Abacus math takes advantage of visual-spatial learning and motor sequencing.

The abacus is still a vital teaching tool in the era of calculators. It employs a variety of learning modalities to engage students in the principles of math. Even though it is archaic, the abacus has cognitive and scientific advantages that make it perfect for helping kids build their core math and quantitative reasoning skills.

Research indicates that, when compared to traditional math instruction, UCMAS abacus training enhances focus, mental math, problem-solving skills, and numerical reasoning. The practical approach develops stronger conceptual comprehension as well as the spatial and visualizing abilities necessary for success in STEM fields.

Want to learn more about the academic benefits of UCMAS? Click here to read the research showing how UCMAS boosts mental math, problem-solving skills and prepares children for STEM.

Start your child’s abacus journey today. Enroll now in UCMAS and help your little one unlock their math potential through the multisensory abacus method. Give them the lifelong benefits of a strong math foundation and mental math skills.

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