Many schools across the world veto finger counting.  You may wonder why Roseway Waldorf school would find it important to encourage it.

The short version is that finger counting has been found to be vital in mathematical achievements, and should not necessarily be associated with being mentally childlike, and not progressing to bigger and better ways of study.

Within our brains is a somatosensory area, which is a representation and stimulator of finger counting – even if the actual fingers are not being used for counting.  This portion of a child’s brain lights up when counting starts, and when more complex sums are attempted this area comes into play to assist with the output.

Our amazing brain is made up of various networks that distribute the inputs to the needed areas, and when a child is involved with counting and math, the visual portions of our brains are activated.

In fact, when a Grade 1 child is encouraged to count on their fingers their understanding of Grade 2 math is increased.

How children might find it easier to study

Looking at an average classroom, it’s not always easy to say which children will love maths and which won’t.

Schools have goals to meet and policies to adhere to.  Sadly you might find that it seems that they are rushing through worksheets and maths problems in the hopes of giving a child the needed understanding.  No teacher is able to understand straight away which children will flourish at maths.

It’s unfortunate that if a child does not “get it” straight away, there is a real danger that they will actually lose out on something that they could possibly be very good at.  At the primary school level, visual aids are used quite a lot to help with understanding in most subjects.

When it comes to the higher grades, there are often just too many children and a whole lot of work to get through.  Visual teaching, (finger counting, etc.) just does not have the time to present itself, yet this is where visual teaching would assist with maths concepts and help the brain to work as well as it can.

Visual maths could be the answer to most problems.

Different individuals will always have different ways to approach the study of maths.

Kinesthetic awareness is a movement sense; it is your nerve receptors tell the brain what’s happening in your surroundings.

While different methods work for different children, there is a logical and visual awareness that helps a child to understand now, and assists with study later. Visual awareness is very important when it comes to understanding maths, and finger counting is the visual awareness that helps a child to understand and develop different areas of their brain.

Finger counting discouraged at an early age.

Sadly not all educational institutes believe in the benefit of finger counting.  In fact, there is one, in particular, that encourages other classmates to report to a teacher if they see anyone counting on their fingers.  Many schools would rather not teach finger counting to children, or make sure that children don’t use it in their mathematics journey.

Research has proven that when finger counting is discouraged, math development can slow down and even come to a complete stop.  Think about a concert pianist; the brain-finger coordination is wonderful to watch, with amazing results. The same can be said for mathematicians. Our fingers can provide additional motivation that helps our children to learn and develop in a wonderful way.

Our approach to maths is different to that of more traditional schools. If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch. We’d love to chat to you.

Angelique Laaks