Take a Multi-Sensory Approach to Learn Arithmetic with Abacus Math

When we think about learning and learning efficiency we must consider how the brain receives information from the outside world. Most learning information we receive comes to us through our senses. We also know that the more different ways we can experience learning the deeper the learning experience. So what if we thought about learning mathematics and arithmetic the same way?

The rightlobemath.com abacus math program teaches students math through a multi-sensory approach utilizing touch, sight, and sound. Just as we experience learning to read whereby teachers encourage students to read to self, read aloud, and have others read to them. New readers are experiencing learning through multiple senses which enrich the brain with the same information but presented in different ways through different senses. 

We can take the same approach for efficient math learning by not only showing students numbers, but also having them experience numbers through touch with the abacus beads, and hearing numbers read to them for processing. Our abacus math program first introduces efficient representation of numbers on the physical abacus. The abacus and modern day soroban have remained relevant for thousands of years because they are the most efficient tool to represent and manipulate numbers. Students using their fingers to move the beads and form numbers on the abacus are experiencing the learning of numbers not only through sight but through their sense of touch. As we have discussed in other posts, this sense of touch moving the beads forms very strong mental images of the bead movements in the right side of the brain. Over time this becomes the basis for developing mental calculation skills.

In addition to touch, our abacus math program deepens each student’s number experience and hence learning efficiency by presenting numbers visually and audibly. The abacus math program uses the traditional problem set format where the user sees all the numbers involved in the calculation at the same time. But we also present numbers to the user in a flash format where each number is sequentially presented to the user for a brief time period either visually or audibly. The flash format forces users to calculate each number as it is presented because the number is only shown once for a short period of time. This helps students build their concentration stamina and further enriches the learning experience. The third method used by our abacus math program is through an audible format where numbers are sequentially read aloud to the user in multiple languages. The student will need to process each number as it is read to them. Abacus students have an advantage when numbers are read to them since abacus students process numbers left to right the same way we read numbers. Where most students are taught to process numbers from right to left and must wait until they hear the entire number before beginning to process it. Again users will continue to build their concentration and focus through their sense of hearing.

This multi-sensory approach to learning arithmetic has proven to increase a student’s learning efficiency and deepen the learning experience. As student’s process numbers through the different sensory inputs the brain makes more connections around the learning process. The deeper the learning the more proficient their math skills become.