Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Why does abacus help build the foundation for math in elementary school? The main reason is math in Grade 1 to Grade 4 are made up of problems that can be solved easily by basic calculation abilities (regardless if it is addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) and linguistic abilities (understanding the questions). The biggest advantage of learning abacus is allowing students to have good calculation ability in a short amount of time. Therefore, abacus is the biggest help for young student in math.
Some might ask: “In terms of calculation, abacus start from higher places and math in school starts from lower places, wouldn’t this be a source of confusion for students?”
The two methods might seem contradictory, but, in fact, the two methods are complementary of each other.
A good abacus teacher will remind students to use what was taught in school when they are there and use abacus and mental arithmetic to double-check the answers. When students can use two methods to cross-check the answers, they can be more confident in math and earn a better grade.
There are some students who still see little improvement in math after learning abacus and mental arithmetic for several year. First, we need to examine if students are indeed having problem with computation. They also need to have a habit of double-checking the answers. Next, examine if students are having trouble with reading and understanding the questions. These are all potential blocks to students’ success.