Teaching mental math

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I really want to teach my children to do mental math.  The recent discussions on the soroban have been so inspiring.  Such as these, among others.


Lacking a local abacus school, I've been on my own.  I used HEV academy's abacus curriculum (http://thehevproject.com/), and my children can now comfortably add and subtract on the soroban, but I don't know how to move forward for teaching anzan.  I think it has something to do with using your hand as an abacus at first?  ie, the thumb represents the 5-bead, and the four fingers represent the 1-beads?

How much do children like this practice?  30-60 minutes a day is what I can do.  I need to be realistic in my expectations.   :wub:

I've also been impressed with Arthur Benjamin's work.  Ultimately I don't care which route we use to learn mental math, I just want to help my children eliminate the need for a calculator. 


He has a book, and a couple different DVD courses out there. 

Plus a book for teaching children:

There are also apps out there like this one:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mathemagics-mental-math-tricks/id306586847?mt=8

Anyway, these are the resources I'm looking at.  I would love advice from people who have had success teaching mental math, be it anzan or otherwise.  I'm going to check out "Cheaper by the Dozen" again as I lost my copy and remember that he successfully taught mental math to his young children, during meals if I recall correctly.  My original plan was to move on to Saxon 5/4 soon, but now I'm thinking it would be better to devote my time to mental math first.  If their brain is a calculator, the coursework will be much easier for them.  :)

Quote from: Tamsyn on September 16, 2013, 11:24:29 AM

but I don't know how to move forward for teaching anzan.  I think it has something to do with using your hand as an abacus at first?

No. Anzan is a mental picture of the soroban, and manipulating the mental version. Using the fingers makes it more visceral but the fingers aren't needed to actually do it. Like anything, you get better with practice and I'd think 30+ minutes per day will get you really good (though maybe not competition ready). Consistency will work in your favor.

Have you checked out Jones Genius program? I really like the first program. It is not really mental math. But I have heard that the other programs are mental math, and math tricks heavy.... I have not seen those yet so someone else would need to verify.

Thank you Tamsyn for asking this question. It's a question that's been on my mind after reading the other mental math posts that have cropped up lately on the forum. I too would love to know about books, websites, and other resources for those of us who do not have a Soroban/Anzan school in our area or who cannot afford some of the online schools mentioned on the Brillkids forum. I'm completely new at this and will be starting from scratch, but I'd love to teach my children how to do it and have it be as effective as some of the schools we've been reading about.

I did a little digging on the internet and so far have only found this. I don't know if it will help at all, but here's an interesting link and some mention of other books:


If anyone else more information, please, please, please share with us. There's got to be lots of other parent's wanting to do this as well!!!

I browsed a little further and their sitemap seems delightful. Lots of info. It just makes me wonder if there are other free websites and online pdf books like they mention that would be helpful.



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