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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hand Movements to Learn Math Better

Researchers at Chicago have been doing some studies lately. Apparently, when children use certain hand motions, they learn concepts like grouping better. This is pretty interesting because it means that even when children have a hard time learning things a certain way have another option. One commentor on the article had some interesting insight in to why this may work:

"In Asian cultures for example, the use of an abacus... is widely accepted as the best way to teach kids math. The cognitive association of sliding the pegs around and doing the equations eventually becomes so ingrained that after a certain point, they dont actually need the board anymore and can mentally 'visualize' the board with their hands. There are videos on youtube of Asian young-adults doing math faster than calculators and you can see them lift their hands and slide an invisible abacus around infront of them."

I know that I use my hands a lot when I talk. I wave and gesture and twirl around. When I danced (badly) when I was younger, I learned the words to the songs easier if there were movements to remind me of the next line.

There seems to be a valid point here. I'd definitely like to do a little more study and try teaching some of these movements to the students that might benefit from an alternate way of learning.