07 Nov, 2013
Mathematics for many is scary right from their childhood. They dread numbers and this may continue even when they are in college. Mathematics is considered to enhance the logical abilities of a child. The human abstract is always difficult to identify and become friends with. And, numbers certainly are abstract. Moreover, multiple formulae and arithmetic operations make it challenging for many. The best way to get over math phobia in young children is to transform numbers from abstract into objects that the child can relate to, visualize and touch. Here we will discuss one such method.
I am sure you have heard of the ancient Chinese/Japanese calculating device Abacus. This certainly is one instrument that gives the numbers an image that a child can feel and visualize.
Abacus as you know has a wooden frame, divided horizontally into two parts by a bar. It has an odd number of vertical rods with beads in the upper and lower deck. These beads represent numbers and facilitate calculating from single-digit to numerous digits numbers. It also allows the use of all the arithmetic operators. One can even solve roots. The kids can virtually see numbers in the image of the bead position. The numbers are no more abstract.
Let us see how one can use an Abacus for doing calculations.
1. The use of an Abacus
For using an Abacus device, a child needs training in the Abacus and its methods before using it proficiently for doing a calculation. It requires Abacus training and rigorous practice. Once trained, the child can do mental math involving a series of multiple digits of numbers by using a Virtual Abacus (The child can visualize an Abacus, and move the beads mentally to do the calculations).
To master the methods of using an Abacus tool efficiently, one has to attend Abacus Classes regularly and complete the Abacus course. It is a gradual process, starting from simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, moving on to a stage when students develop Mental Math skills.
2. Addition and Subtraction on Abacus
Understanding the Abacus Tool is the preliminary thing one has to do before initiating Abacus learning. Either the middle of the extreme right rod of the Abacus is considered the unit rod, and subsequent rods on the left of the unit rod would be tens, hundreds, and so on. One can calculate tens of millions of place values. Once a child understands the basic structure and the value of Abacus beads starting from the unit rod, the child will be able to solve single-digit additions. The upper deck of the Abacus has one bead and has a numeric value of 5, while the lower deck has 4 beads with one as the numeric value of each. Only when a bead touches the horizontal bar, does it attain the value?
For example, if we have to add 1 + 2, we move one bead on the unit rod from the lower deck towards the Horizontal bar. Next, add 2 we will move 2 beads on the unit rod toward the Horizontal bar. Now, since three beads are touching the horizontal bar of the Abacus, you get a value of 3.
For a sum to be solved, we have to start from the unit's rod and move to the left rod for tens, hundreds, etc., and so on. A similar method of solving from left to right is applied while solving sums of addition and subtraction.
3. Multiplication in Abacus
Let us understand how to do multiplication on Abacus, through this sum.
Say you have to solve 5 x 2.
We will set 5 on the extreme left and 2 on the extreme right of the Abacus Tool.
Now 2 times 5 is 10 so, we will place 0 on the unit rod and 1 on the 10’s rod.
This is the process for multiplying any number of digits on an Abacus. If it is a multiplication of 2 digits, the result of the first digit multiplication will be placed on the unit rod and need to be on the 10’s rod. The result of the 2nd digit will be placed on the 10’s rod and need to be on the 100’s rod. So on and so forth. The final position will give the perfect multiplication.
One can also solve questions of division and fractions on an Abacus. That too mentally and faster than a calculator.
Several companies are providing Abacus Training through their Abacus centers. One of them is the premium company Mastermind Abacus. They have a program technologically advanced but still maintaining the sanctity of the traditional Abacus method calculation. They are the only Abacus promoter with the conventional Abacus Classes and Online Abacus Learning & Teaching Platforms with indigenously developed Abacus Math based Math video games.