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More about maths (Mental Arithmetic vs Kumon)

Posted on: September 1, 2009

I have a chance to meet with a Principal from an Abacus and Mental Arithmetic school. She has been in the business for more than a decade. This is what I understand from her:

– The program introduces maths to young children using Abacus – this is a tool to let the children ‘visualize’ the numbers : similar concept with dots cards used in Shichida and Glenn Doman. On top of that, using the Abacus with both hands help the right brain development. And it helps to train the coordination of the sight, feeling and hearing senses in a child as well.

– Similar to Kumon, it needs lots of practise and eventually the children are able to memorize the equations/answers. The difference is that for Mental Arithmetic what is memorized are pictures of Abacus – just like photographic memory in Shichida and other right brain training method.  Where as Kumon, the image are the numbers.

– What is achieved for both Mental Arithmetic and Kumon are similar, that children are able to calculate, and calculate very fast, way way very fast.

– One last important point I learn is that, this program (and same as Kumon) doesn’t promise the children will score in school. Comprehension and languages come into picture when talking about problem solving and maths questions in school exam. The children needs to be able to understand (able to read) the questions and apply the correct Arithmetic to work out the answer.

– My husband used to ask me is it so important to be able to count so fast. One parent who sells satay is so impressed by what the Mental Arithmetic class has taught her daughter that she travels more than an hour every week to send her daughter to this class in KL (They are not from KL).  She said, “My daughter can calculate the price the customer needs to pay very fast and without miss, and she is only 7 years old.”

So what I learn from the meet upl is that, everything still goes back to build a good foundation to be able to read and understand.


6 Responses to "More about maths (Mental Arithmetic vs Kumon)"

Hi, Kathleen. TQVM for your recent posts on flashcards. Appreciated. Do you think, I should send my girl to either mental arithmetic or kumon class? I agreed with you; “Build a good foundation in reading and understanding”.
Am having intention to sign up with TW. Actually, do we really need to send our girls to different types of enrichment programs (TW, Shichida, Kumon, Mental Arithmetic, School, Music, Ballet, etc). What do you think? Are you intending to send your child to kumon or mental arithmetic? Am just clueless at times, because you have started all these, long time ago but am only doing it now. Sometimes, I really don’t know where to start and have thought that maybe just pay and send her here and there but am afraid she might be exhausted by my act/decision.
Pls advice. Thank you.


Hi Queenie, I sent the girls to Shichida and TW caused I believe in Right Brain thingy, plus the parent and child attend the class together, good for the bonding as well as helping the parent understand the child better and learn how to teach them. It’s not a need. Also I find it good as I was there when they are first exposed to the classroom + teacher environment, at such a young age. Furthermore, I prefer to delay sending them to nursery as long as I can. Therefore I choose that path.
For Kumon, I might not be sending them there. Mental Arithmetic – may be. Ballet, yes. But I stop them as I find the previous center not so good. Still trying to find a good school and suitable time slot. Music – yes. I sent them for Music Garten and will switch to Yamaha JMC later. You can try it out. Because my girls dont go to school at that time, they kind of have more time and enjoy these activities more. Just give it a try and observe them. Ask them if they like it or enjoy it or not.

Hi, Thanks for your reply. At least now I get the rough ideas on how to handle my girl. I went to TW to sign up for next term. For your opinion, should I send her to Shichida too? Your girls are attending both, will they be confuse with both the enrichment methods applied in their programme? I introduced her some flashcards I made myself, she was so happy and kept saying mommy loves me. Am so thrilled with her words!
Thank you Kathleen, you have had helped me a lot. Your girls must be super lucky to have a mom like you….and they are smart too!!!
Now, browse through your website is my daily is a must regime..ha ha ha. Am gaining knowledge and guidance from here.

Thanks, ya!

I use a Rekenrek with my students. Similar to an abacus but changes color after 5 beads which helps with visual recognition of amounts. I find that using the Rekenrek regularly has a real impact on mental math skills.

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