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If we told you that there was an approach to math and math problems kids would enjoy and even ask for more, would you believe us? Harfa International School from Split proudly invites you to the free workshop for kids ages 5 – 10 named “Mental Math – the fun path to math success“.
Take this opportunity and bring your child to fall in love with math! This free workshop will take place on February 28, 2023.
But let’s set the true anchor point of this story. What is the challenge and why do so many children resist math? The problem certainly is not in mathematics or the difficulty of math tasks. The challenge lies precisely in the approach, and if you find the right one, it will delight students, parents, and teachers alike.
This approach is called Mental Math: Abacus Soroban.
These popular workshops that engage children in a fun way and connect the English language and mathematics are delivered by Harfa International School teachers.
The workshops are based on mental mathematics or Abacus Soroban, an ancient Japanese method through which calculations are done using only our brains and an ancient Japanese abacus called Soroban.
Even today, many developed Asian countries, despite all the technology available, still retain mental mathematics as the basis for learning math in their schools.
The workshops are conducted in English but don’t worry – knowledge of the English language is not a prerequisite for coming to the workshops because children will acquire English communication skills as well as mathematical skills in a relaxed environment and in a fun way. The workshops are meant for children ages 5 – 10.
In addition to the acquisition of math knowledge for which it is best known, mental mathematics is intended for the development of mental abilities in children who, while attending the workshops, show significant progress in the following areas:
In today’s dynamic environment, preparing children for the future represents a global challenge.
Technology is changing our lives daily and determining the specific skills that will be needed in the future has never been so vague.
However, one thing is clear. We must equip children with skills that will help them accept the concept of lifelong learning and constant acquisition of the necessary knowledge under given conditions.
This is why introducing activities like mental math is so important. By attending these workshops, our school children will acquire knowledge and skills that prepare them for the future, not only in terms of education but also in life.
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In general, the application of mental arithmetic activates mental potential and enables better success in education, but also in other aspects of life. How? Working on the abacus uses not only the left side of the brain but both sides – the left and the right. Why is that important?
To better understand how Soroban mental arithmetic works, we must first understand how the brain works. The brain consists of two main hemispheres; the left and right. Each of us has a dominant hemisphere we rely on in our daily lives.
The left hemisphere regulates the logical and systematic processing and storage of information, and we associate it with the processes of reasoning, analyzing, speaking, and solving mathematical problems. The right hemisphere has a holistic function, such as color recognition, geometric shapes, music, art, and skills.
The concept of Soroban using both hands in mental arithmetic requires the combined use of both the left and the right hemispheres of the brain, thus a more balanced development of the brain and thought process.
Since both sides of the brain are connected by a common process, learning becomes more successful, and a significant improvement in concentration, memory, and creativity is achieved.
The story of the abacus begins in Mesopotamia, with pebbles in the sand. Over a long time, the idea traveled across the continent to reach Japan in the Edo period (approximately 1600-1850).
During that period, the priests in temples taught children to read, write and calculate on the abacus. The development of Japanese education started from these schools, and it is also important to note that in the largest economies of East Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea) the abacus is still part of the curriculum in most schools.
Abacus is a wonderful “mental sport” that trains the brain.
Although it is intended for children, the abacus is getting more and more popular among adults. Because of the way it is taught, not involving formal knowledge of numbers, it can also be used by kindergarten children introducing in this way the idea of numbers.
Since all generations can learn the abacus in today’s, mostly virtual, life, this is a great opportunity for all generations to meet and enhance their social and family connections.
Abacus and cell phones really have nothing to do with each other. Nowadays, the abacus is not only a tool for calculation, but also for exercising the brain. In many countries, formal education places great emphasis on subjects that use the left side of the brain, but as creative thinking is increasingly needed, the need for activities that develop the right side is growing.
This is why activities, such as the abacus, are so important and are getting introduced more and more to kindergartens and schools worldwide.
Considering that calculation is often practiced in a limited time, through practice one learns to make better use of time, as well as the speed of calculation. One unconsciously learns to think about every minute and second. Given that proposed problems become longer and more complicated over time, one also practices concentration and willpower.
Numbers are much less scary for children when they can visualize them, which later helps them to calculate in their head and thus develop the right side of the brain. Children also find it fun to compete in solving tasks quickly, so through rivalry, they learn to always try to be better. In addition, for example, the skill of dividing using the abacus develops the ability to make good judgments in children.
Probably the most useful role of the abacus is that it serves as a tool to introduce children to mathematics without resistance to numbers. It is an especially useful tool for children who are convinced that they are not good at math because this tool uses the other side of the brain and children do not feel like they are doing math.
In today’s dynamic environment, preparing children for the future is certainly a challenge. Technology changes our lives daily and what will be needed in the times to come can be quite vague to conclude. But one thing is clear. Critical thinking and problem-solving will be essential. This is why we need to make our children prepared for these specific skills and needs. This is why introducing activities like the abacus is so important.
Photos and text: Harfa International School