## Math - kids count on fingers!??

Everything from basic math up through high school!

Moderators: Bob Hazen, Theodore, elliemaejune

ryanandsarie
User
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:33 pm

### Math - kids count on fingers!??

This will be my first year homeschooling my kids...I am looking into math curriculum and like the MATH YOU SEE. I have been looking at a few others and when I have had the kids to math placement tests...I am seeing that BOTH kids count on their fingers! They cannot recall the facts of addition or subtraction. Can anyone give me any advice or help as to what I should do for curriculum. The MATH YOU SEE site states if the children are counting on their fingers they need to go back to that book in which they learned the facts....My son is almost 10 years old and pretty good in his math...so he would have to start all over!

THanks in advance!
Sarah

momo3boys
User
Posts: 574
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:00 am
Location: Western Mass
Maybe you could just supplement the math you see, add some extra worksheets and fun math problems. Make math part of their life, counting, grocery store stuff, measuring, time. Maybe that will help them catch up, you don't want him to hate math because it is boring, but you want to make sure he is learning new things too. Maybe a different program, one that uses Cuisenire rods? My son loves them.
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

ldowns9315
User
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:49 pm
Location: Texas
Contact:

### That's exactly the question I was going to ask

Really close, anyway.

I guess my question is, when they're learning math, is it a bad thing to count on their fingers?

I know as they progress, they are going to need to learn to remember these facts and put them together without having to stop and do that, but while they're learning, aren't fingers a good "visual aid" to help understand the concept that when I add two fingers and two fingers, that's four fingers?

I'd love responses. I'm looking for opinion either way.

momo3boys
User
Posts: 574
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:00 am
Location: Western Mass
I never thougth of that, aren't fingers just another manipulative?
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Ramona
User
Posts: 418
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:16 am
There are some great articles about math on this site by Bob Hazen. He talks about 6 or 7 different ways to teach math facts and my experience is that each of my children truly needed to be taught every one of those ways before they mastered their facts and could do them without using fingers.

I also read somewhere else that counting on fingers is a normal developmental stage kids go through. If a 10-y-o is stuck at that stage I'd think there's a hole somewhere in those 6 or 7 different ways of approaching memorizing the math facts.

I have no problem with my kids using their fingers when they're 5 and 6. In some ways the fingers are another manipulative, and in some ways they're different. (They can't be taken away from the child, for one thing.)

Ramona

ryanandsarie
User
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:33 pm

### THANKS

Thank you for all of your comments and suggestions! I understand math on fingers to some extent..but my 10 year old has trouble with his math because he is trying to multiply and such...We are going to work on getting our facts down!
Thanks so much!

ldowns9315
User
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:49 pm
Location: Texas
Contact:

### Thanks guys

This has been very helpful.

Do you know where I could find any of those articles about teaching math 5 or 6 different ways?

Bob Hazen?

Theodore
Moderator
Posts: 2115
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:14 pm
Location: Missouri, US
Contact:
We have some of Bob Hazen's articles up here:
http://www.home-school.com/Articles/

We need to add more, though - some were set aside temporary due to the difficulty of representing certain symbols and formulas in web format. I may do an all Bob Hazen batch after I finish the current set of articles I'm working on.

Ramona
User
Posts: 418
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:16 am

### Re: Thanks guys

Moti
User
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 3:16 pm
Contact:
Actually, there is a problem with counting on fingers, and all other manipulatives. They do create a problem in mastering skills. While manipulatives can help in understanding an idea they are not good for practicing. The child becomes dependent on the manipulatives for doing the exercise and does not develop the skill. Manipulatives also (in the practice stage, not the understanding the idea stage) reduce abstract thinking.

You can find a blog by me on my website that cites a recent study on math standards in which manipulatives are discussed.

Several parents who had the same exact problem asked me what to do and when they followed my advice they saw great and quick improvement. Basically, do not allow him to use fingers anymore. He has to develop the ability to "see" (or use his mind) to calculate. Don't try to tackle ALL the "facts" immediately. Start with addition and multiplication and get him to master one number (i.e. 2+1, 2+2..2+10, 2x1,2x2,...2x10). Only when he can answer those quickly (without hesitation) move to the next one.

Why is it important? not for its own sake really. Knowing those "facts" is important because when more complex operations and topics are learned, not knowing those facts well enough create an inability to see the "path" to the answer -- the child gets stuck at the calculation stage and the problem becomes like an unbridged river. Knowing those facts provide a bridge so the rest of the path can be seen.

Miyu
User
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:19 pm
Location: Utah
I am a mathetician, and I still count on my fingers at times...and I did throughout school...and I have no problem at all with abstract thought.

I have mixed feelings about the whole subject. On the one hand, I see understand the arguments against it, but on the other hand, it didn't hurt me any.

three2camp
User
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:33 am
In regards to Math-U-See, my now 10-y-o is completing Gamma level and we've ordered Delta. MUS did offer placement tests and many websites also offer sample lessons. The first half of MUS - Gamma had us completely bored - it revisits 2 x 2 - but the second half was more challenging. Gamma is ALL multiplication, Delta is ALL division so he can go at his own pace. But, it's also confusing when coming out of public school where they're mixing it all up.

We haven't used the MUS manipulatives hardly at all - a little bit in the 100's, but otherwise they're gathering dust. The reviews and tests do revisit addition and subtraction and continue to review and build on skills. When he's ready to move on - sometimes the next day - we move on.

After we started MUS, I heard about Singapore and now I wish we had tried that one. But, he wants to stay with MUS. Singapore also has placement tests and samples you can print.

Moti
User
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 3:16 pm
Contact:
Miyu wrote:I am a mathetician, and I still count on my fingers at times...and I did throughout school...and I have no problem at all with abstract thought.

I have mixed feelings about the whole subject. On the one hand, I see understand the arguments against it, but on the other hand, it didn't hurt me any.

But you are a mathematician, which means you have a natural ability in math and therefore you get the abstract concepts easily. Most people are not so and for them an excessive use of manipulatives is damaging.

As you should know, a sample of 1 is not representative

And I had a brilliant Linear Algebra professor who couldn't multiply matrices bigger than 2x2 with numbers higher than 0s and 1s

groovyhsmama
User
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:13 pm
Location: Near Charlotte, NC
Contact:

### Re: That's exactly the question I was going to ask

ldowns9315 wrote:Really close, anyway.

I guess my question is, when they're learning math, is it a bad thing to count on their fingers?

I know as they progress, they are going to need to learn to remember these facts and put them together without having to stop and do that, but while they're learning, aren't fingers a good "visual aid" to help understand the concept that when I add two fingers and two fingers, that's four fingers?

I'd love responses. I'm looking for opinion either way.

My 4th grader(public school) still uses her fingers to count on and it makes me batty, but if she can use them and do it correctly, I'm not going to worry about it.
Groovy
HSing mom to my 5yo ds

Dolly-VA
User
Posts: 97
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 9:30 pm

### Re: That's exactly the question I was going to ask

groovyhsmama wrote:My 4th grader(public school) still uses her fingers to count on and it makes me batty, but if she can use them and do it correctly, I'm not going to worry about it.

Well, this is an old thread but in regards to Groovy's post, I just had to pipe in! Something I noticed today about my 9 yo is that she will use her fingers to count if she's doing multiplication and needs to carry. When I mentioned it, her older brother agreed that it sometimes just helps to count it than to have to switch gears in the middle of a problem and immediately switch back. Makes sense to me!

We're also using Math-U-See and, while we only rarely use the manipulatives, sometimes they help to take a concept from the abstract to the concrete. We started with Gamma at the beginning of January and have only 5 lessons left (most of it was review from school, but she now feels very confident with the program and is pleased I've already ordered the next level.)

Return to “Math”

### Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest