6a00d8341c574253ef0168eafc6d41970ctlinehan [Email address: tlinehan #AT# austin.rr.com - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_self">Tom Linehan

I recently learned about a unique approach to teaching math skills to children called Abacaus Mental Math and wanted to share it with parents in Allandale. In an effort to find out whether parents would like to see it offered as an after-school activity at the Northwest Recreation Center, I invited Tracey Vickery to come and talk to parents about it. What follows is a brief summary of the meeting.

On Sunday, I held the second of two sessions about Abacus mental math at my house in the afternoon. I asked Tracey Vickery, who currently teaches this unusual but very effective method of learning math in Lakeway, Steiner Ranch and Lake Travis, to come talk to us about it. She brought three of her students.

Tracey started by giving the six parents in attendance some background on the program including how she became interested in it. Tracey has concluded from her extensive travels and research that it is this approach to math, particularly in the asian countries, that explains why students in those countries out-perform American students.

One of the reasons has to do with their ability to mentally calculate numbers faster. When comparing performance based on standardized test, part of the reason American students do not do as well, she explained, is because they do not finish theĀ  test. They simply run out of time. I am confident that won’t be a problem for the three girls we watched on Sunday shouting out answers to one-, two-, and three-digit problems served up by one of the parents. Tracey explained this approach to learning math not only helps students become competent at performing mental math calculations but it works both sides of the brain developing their creativity as well. Other benefits include: increase concentration and focus, improved memory, improved fine motor skills and speed listening skills.

Following Tracey’s overview, she had the three second-graders: Brook, Allison and Karina (see photo), demonstrate their skills. They warmed up with some simple one-digit calculations, e.g, 5 + 9 – 3 – 1 = ? They then moved on to two-digit andĀ  3-digit calculations. One of the parents read off the numbers and verified the answers. He started out slow but the girls asked him to speed it up. We were all impressed. Included in the demonstration were a few multiplication problems and calculations involving decimals. For the more complicated problems, the girls were moving their fingers as if moving beads on an abacus; that is because they were visualizing working an abacus in their mind. Millions around the world use this approach to learning math. Not only does it boost their math skills, it boosts the children’s confidence.

Tracey explained a typical class is 1 1/2 hours a week for 24 weeks. Students range in age from 4 to 12. Like any skill, the ones who do the best are the ones that practice. Fifteen to 30-minutes a night during the week is what it takes.

Three of the parents stayed afterwards to ask questions. One of the parents who attended with her daughter is going to try to arrange to have Tracey come and do her presentation at a nearby Pre-K school. Others in attendance said they will be spreading the word about the class to friends. The hope is there will be enough interest to put together an after-school class at the Northwest Recreation Center in the Fall. Tracey is checking with the Northwest Recreation Center on available days and times. You can get more information about Abacus Mental Math class here. If you are interested in keeping up with progress on the class forming or what other interested parents are saying about it, join the allandale abacus allandale listserve. (see below). You can contact Tracey directly here: edtelligence [Email address: edtelligence #AT# yahoo.com - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_self">edtelligence [Email address: edtelligence #AT# yahoo.com - replace #AT# with @ ].

Abacus Allandale Listserve:
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