Thursday, August 24, 2006
Ancient Asian Calculating Tool May Hold Key to Boosting Children's Mental Math Skills
In Asia, many schools have rediscovered the secrets of the abacus, an ancient calculating device that offers remarkable benefits for nurturing young minds and encouraging proficiency in mathematics and mental calculation. With abacus instruction, children can achieve much more than just excellent math skills. Abacus use can build confidence, provide a sense of achievement, promote intuitive thinking, enhance problem-solving capability, stimulate creativity, and improve concentration and mental endurance.
Educators in Asia say abacus skills are a key reason children in these countries consistently win top rankings in international math comparisons. Many schools in Asia, where abacus instruction is widely popular for teaching mental math/arithmetic, introduce the abacus between kindergarten and 4th grade.
U.S. Student Math Performance Lags Behind Asia
In 2003, U.S. performance in mathematics literacy and problem solving was lower than average among OECD (Organization for Education and Cooperative Development) countries. Korea and Japan ranked at or near the top in problem solving and combined math literacy.
In the United States, abacus instruction is catching in some schools as well as among parents who home-school their children.
They realize that math proficiency gives students. a competitive edge and prepares them for tomorrow’s highly selective job marketplace. Most new jobs in the U.S. require good math and science skills, and abacus instruction is geared to helping children master mental math/arithmetic at an early age.
Abacus training also keeps children from becoming overly dependent on electronic calculating tools for simple arithmetic – a problem that worries teachers.
The abacus is an excellent substitute for rote memorization of multiplication tables. Abacus calculation relies on the manipulation of beads rather than use of traditional arithmetic. It teaches children to visualize numbers and their relationships and placement values.
Abacus Stimulates Whole Brain Development
When children use both hands to move the abacus beads to perform arithmetic calculations, there is quick communication between the hands and the brain that stimulates both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This promotes rapid, balanced whole brain development.
If a child starts learning the abacus before being taught traditional arithmetic, there is minimal conflict and the child will easily work within both systems. If a child starts the program later, having already received traditional foundations, there may be a slightly extended learning period for the child to accept and integrate the abacus method.
A popular abacus program is available through Fairfax, Virginia-based NurtureMinds.com, which offers books containing simple step-by-step instructions that make learning the abacus fun for children. This set of books, Learning Mathematics with the Abacus, was developed specifically for teaching youngsters in grades 2, 3 and 4 how to master mental math/arithmetic with the abacus. The site also offers the Japanese Soroban abacus, which consists of a wooden frame divided into 2 parts separated by a beam, with one row of beads on the upper deck, and four rows on the lower deck.
Japanese Educators Hail Abacus Training
In Japan, educators maintain that the abacus helps children develop powers of mental calculation. It enables children to:
- understand the base-ten number system and place values,
- understand concepts of carrying and borrowing in arithmetic, and
- visualize close relations between numbers and numerals.
Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 2 focuses on addition and subtraction of numbers up to 1,000, and develops multiplication and division skills.
Activities in these books have been carefully designed and structured by a panel of academicians, curriculum specialists and instructional designers to ensure that pupils not only learn mathematics effectively, but also develop the ability to perform mental calculations.
These books are used by tens of thousands of students in Malaysia and many other nations, where they are regarded as the best abacus learning books for children on the market. Parents and educators can visit the NurtureMinds.com website to find out more about why these books are becoming increasingly popular in many countries like Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and elsewhere. They have become valuable abacus teaching tools in schools, tuition centers and community centers, and are used by home-schooling parents around the world. The website offers free downloads from the books.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Brain Development at early childhood
Children have an amazing ability to learn, but their vast brain potential is not always nurtured to the fullest extent.
With the proper guidance and tools, children as young as 4 or 5 are capable of mastering mathematical skills and calculating ability that will yield benefits that last a lifetime.
“Learning Mathematics with the Abacus” is a set of books offering simple, enjoyable instructions for using the abacus, an ancient calculating device that provides modern children with valuable mental stimulation and proficiency in mathematics.
Scientific analyses indicate abacus training can improve a child’s ability to:
- observe, and
- process information.
But how can it accomplish all that, and so much more?
Our brain has two hemispheres, the left brain and the right brain. About 95% of our children use only the left brain, which provides the ability to analyze information concerning languages and sound. But the right side of the brain, which is focused on thinking, creativity and integration of information, needs to be used and stimulated as well.
Learning to use the abacus can help develop this right brain/left brain integration.
When children use both hands to move abacus beads in arithmetic calculations, it stimulates cells in both the right and left sides of the brain. This results in quick, balanced whole brain development, leading to greater mental capacity. Using the abacus, a child can do all arithmetic calculations up to 10 digits without relying on an electronic calculator.
Nurtureminds publishes “Learning Mathematics with the Abacus” as well as abacus and mental arithmetic reference materials. We offer three books with simple step-by-step instructions that make learning the abacus enjoyable. Beginners use the Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 1 textbook and activity book to start adding and subtracting numbers up to 100. They begin by identifying the different parts of the abacus, holding and using it correctly, mastering the right fingering technique in moving the beads, and learning to visualize as they calculate.
The Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 2 textbook focuses on addition and subtraction of numbers up to 1,000, and develops addition and multiplication skills.
Our books have been used by tens of thousands of students in Malaysia and many other nations. They are regarded as the best abacus learning books for children on the market. Activities in these books have been carefully designed and structured by our panel of academicians, curriculum specialists and instructional designers to ensure that pupils not only learn mathematics effectively, but also develop the ability to perform mental calculations.
With these books, you can help your child achieve more than just math skills. You can boost your child’s confidence, provide a sense of achievement, promote intuitive thinking, enhance problem-solving capability, enhance creativity, and improve concentration and mental endurance.
Find out more on why our books are becoming increasingly popular in places like many Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and elsewhere. They have become valuable teaching tools in schools, tuition centers and community centers, and are used by homeschooling parents around the world.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
India bans child domestic labour - BBC News Articl
The order, which applies to children under 14, will come into effect in October, officials say.
It also bans children from teashops, restaurants, hotels, motels, resorts, spas or other recreational centres.
There are estimated to be more than 12.6 million child workers in India, many of whom work as domestic helps or in small roadside restaurants.
A senior official in the Labour Ministry, SK Srivastava, told the BBC that "the Technical Advisory Committee on Child Labour regularly surveys the risk factors involved in any industry and depending on our findings we have taken this decision".
The committee, while recommending the ban, warned that children under 14 were vulnerable to physical, mental and even sexual abuse.
Mr Srivastava said that anyone found violating the ban would be penalised under the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act of 1986. Punishment range from a fine to imprisonment.
India has laws in place to protect children and bans the use of young workers in hazardous industries, but they remain ineffective in many areas.
Thousands of children continue to work in firecracker and matchstick factories or are involved in carpet weaving, embroidery or stitching footballs.
Many parents say crippling poverty forces them to send their children, sometimes as young as five or six, to work in other people's homes or in factories.
Most of these children are made to work in unhealthy conditions for long hours and paid poorly.
Even after considering all the attrocities a child might face while working in harsh conditions, robbed of their childhood etc, a lot of these children are bread earners for their families, what are these children suppose to do if the ban is implemented vigorously? Are there enough teachers%