Early Childhood Education: Mental Math Programs

Math has never really been a subject that interested Gavin. Whenever we’re working on his Math activity books, I find he gets bored of them really fast and he wants to move on to something new. Because of that, I’ve been looking for ways to introduce Math to him so that he’ll not only like it but excel in it. Since he is beyond the age for the Doman Math program, I’ve constantly been on the lookout for programs that develop mental maths.

I initially tried Soroban but all he wanted to do was play with the abacus and make pretty patterns with it. I was interested in Jones Geniuses but I wasn’t happy about the lack of information about the program. Luckily there was an excellent review about it on Gentle Revolution: Home Schooling which provided what their website did not. I think Gavin is similar to Hunter’s stage in Math, and may also be a little past that level so I was debating whether to get the early program or the next level up.

Before I could seriously consider getting Jones Geniuses, I read another review comparing Jones Geniuses to TouchMath which was in favour of TouchMath. Unfortunately, the prices for the TouchMath program just blew me out of the water. It just seemed a little too much to pay especially when I don’t even know how well Gavin would respond to the program.

About that time, Gavin was responding positively to the BrainQuest Activity Cards I bought for him, so I was also considering getting the Math Activity Cards. They may not be Mental Math Programs, but at least they teach Math – which, if he enjoys it, will be a step in the right direction. Daddy also found that the way to motivate Gavin with Math is to challenge him. Using Gavin’s new black board (given to him by his godfamily for his birthday), Daddy challenged him to see how could answer the Maths problems more quickly. It was simple addition and subtraction and Gavin could do it. He was also very eager to beat Daddy so maybe that’s the key…

Then I came across CMA Mental Arithmetic which offers classes at Play n Learn on Level 2 in 1Utama New Wing, and Global Maths which is in Subang Jaya. Both programs have mental math programs for young children and they teach using the abacus (the Chinese abacus). Purely due to location, I would choose CMA over Global Math because Subang Jaya is just too far away from us, although Global Maths has informed me that they are planning to open a new branch in Damasara Jaya. However, the problem with CMA is that the classes for 4 year olds are only available on Wednesday 6-8pm and Friday 7-9pm which don’t fit into his schedule.

Just as I was despairing, Daddy reminded me that Gavin is still taking his right brain classes which, according to Shichida, can help to develop the right brain’s ability to perform complex calculations rapidly. If we can successfully activate this function in his right brain, there will be no need for these additional Math classes. So perhaps the key is to remained focused on right brain education and reintroduce the home practice program which we have put on the backburner for a while.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

5 thoughts on “Early Childhood Education: Mental Math Programs

  1. Hi Shenli,

    Mind to tell where you got your “smaller” abacus ? It seems so odd see any of such abacus in any bookstore here. I am eagerly to get abacus because big abacus is just not suitable for small hands.

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  2. Thanks. I have quite settled down with idea of getting small abacus NOW because I notice V is now shifting to do the sum the anzan/mental way with abacus approach i.e. doing the sums with formulae in head to fetch the answers.

    See’s Maths has given a solid foundation to that too.

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  3. Hi:
    I have a system that you may want to try. I start with dice and let the children play with the dice until they can tell four dots without counting all four dots. They just recognize the pattern is a four. Then I teach how to make the numerals from the dice dots. This is done without the dots touching the numeral. Any system that puts the dots on top of the number can damage your child’s ability to do math so for your child’s sake please do not do that. After the child has made the transition from the dice dot matrix to the numeral I then explain digital numbers. My digital numbers are true numbers because the number symbol is equal to it’s value. A five is made with 5 digits and 6 has 6 digits etc… I then teach that every number is a calculator with keys around each number. The small numbers add up to the key on the opposite side of the big number. This system can help your child understand math at a university level because it is taught as groups of elements. Search for “Enter the Dots” by Rob Macduff (PHD) and his CIMM program. He also teaches math as groups of dots. You can find the DotMath for kids with the Google search box and copy The Fun Book for FREE. and you can find the CIMM program with the Google search box as well.

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