# Math help - using fingers...still

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We finally found a math curricula (TT4) that doesn't leave us both in tears. My question is what can I do to help her stop counting on her fingers? She had 2 years of RS using the abacus.

We do Flashmaster 3 days a week and have been for over 1 year with little to no success. She continues to rely on her fingers.

She's 9.5 and has NLD with moderate dyscalcula, so at this point i'm just thankful we are getting math done! But...

Do I leave it alone and let it be or do we address the 'issue' and how?

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C is 6 and uses her fingers. I encourage her to do so. I would rather she use her fingers than struggle. We havent tried an abacus full time yet.

Edited by Jpoy85
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I would probably dedicate most of my time to teaching concepts over calculations. Maybe let her use a number line? My oldest struggles with calculation and the therapist we see suggested I allow him to use a calculator.

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Michelle,

While she counts on her fingers, I wonder if you have taught her how to count on her fingers?

Can she count up to 99 on her fingers?

In case you don't know how to count up to 99 on your fingers, I might explain it:

Form a fist with your left hand, palm up.

Then for 1, extend your little finger.

Then extend the next finger alongside it, for 2.

Followed by the next finger for 3, and last finger for 4.

Where as they sit touching the fingers alongside them, they can felt as a group of 2 or 3 or 4 fingers.

No doubt you could put your hand out of sight under the table, and form 1,2,3,4 with fingers.

As you can feel them.

Then for 5 ?

We close the fingers and extend the thumb, to represent a group of 5.

Which leaves the fingers free to use again.

So that with your thumb extended, then you can again extend your fingers to count: 6,7,8,9.

Then for 10, we need to 'carry' it, so we carry it over to the other hand.

Where the little finger on the right is 10.

20 on the next finger, up to 40. With the thumb being used as 50.

So that using both hands, we can count up to 99.

But a crucial element of using this finger counting technique?

Is that after practicing it for a while. Numbers become associated with their hand/finger 'signs', and can be concieved of without actually moving the fingers.

Which parallels the way that Deaf think in 'signs', without moving their hands.

Where Dyscalculia isn't a difficulty with learning numbers, but with concieving of numbers?

So that finger counting can provide a way to concieve of numbers.

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I gave my daughter a laminated number line and let her use that for quite some time. If she was going to count, I found it beneficial if she had a visual understanding of one number's relationship to another rather than just using fingers.

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I think using finger is far better than that of using calculator especially in this age.

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Michelle,

While she counts on her fingers, I wonder if you have taught her how to count on her fingers?

Can she count up to 99 on her fingers?

In case you don't know how to count up to 99 on your fingers, I might explain it:

Form a fist with your left hand, palm up.

Then for 1, extend your little finger.

Then extend the next finger alongside it, for 2.

Followed by the next finger for 3, and last finger for 4.

Where as they sit touching the fingers alongside them, they can felt as a group of 2 or 3 or 4 fingers.

No doubt you could put your hand out of sight under the table, and form 1,2,3,4 with fingers.

As you can feel them.

Then for 5 ?

We close the fingers and extend the thumb, to represent a group of 5.

Which leaves the fingers free to use again.

So that with your thumb extended, then you can again extend your fingers to count: 6,7,8,9.

Then for 10, we need to 'carry' it, so we carry it over to the other hand.

Where the little finger on the right is 10.

20 on the next finger, up to 40. With the thumb being used as 50.

So that using both hands, we can count up to 99.

But a crucial element of using this finger counting technique?

Is that after practicing it for a while. Numbers become associated with their hand/finger 'signs', and can be concieved of without actually moving the fingers.

Which parallels the way that Deaf think in 'signs', without moving their hands.

Where Dyscalculia isn't a difficulty with learning numbers, but with concieving of numbers?

So that finger counting can provide a way to concieve of numbers.

I have used this method myself for ages (called Finger Math) except that I learned it with the index finger (pointer) as 1, index plus middle as 2, index plus middle plus ring as 3...

Unless a child does already use little finger for 1, it might be able to teach it using the index/pointer as 1. That said, my ds did not take to this method, but for someone who learned abacus, finger math is very similar.

Adding and subtracting can be greatly aided with it.

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I am not a great fan of my kids counting on their fingers -

You can try Math-It. It has boards and little cards that you lay over the correct answers. It is follows a very logical sequence through the math facts and I was very disappointed when it didn't really do the job for us. Do not pay much attention to the manual saying that the child can learn all the math facts in one evening - it takes much longer. My daughter learnt to double and half with Math-It.

We have moved on to http://www.currclick.com/product/13616/How-to-Teach-Math-Facts?it=1. This has really worked for us. It uses flash cards and at first I wasn't very comfortable with the idea, but we have got it to work by turning it into games. "This is a hard one - I don't think you are going to get it..." - "Oh, my goodness you got it!!". Timing her and keeping her personal best time for a set of cards. Having mommy's pile of cards (the ones she doesn't know) and her pile (known facts) - the aim is for her to get all the cards and then poor mommy has none.

I printed the flash cards from www.apples4theteacher.com . Currclick also have triangular ones that we are using for multiplication.

Once she was reasonably confident with a set of flash cards I also got her onto Sumdog (www.sumdog.com). It is an online maths gaming site where kids play games against each other and it is for free! You can set what facts she is practising even to the level of number + 1 or number + 2. So I set the level on Sumdog to what we are working on. Once she found that she was actually starting to win some games, she was hooked!

Hope that helps.

Helen

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Pen, on my Dyscalculia Forum, I long recommended this method with the index finger as 1.

Until a few years ago, when a study was published, that identified that when we 'think of 1'?

That EEGs showed that a neural connection between the little finger on the left hand.

With consecutive connections up to 4 with the index finger.

Which caused me to revise it, and use the little finger as 1.

But this counting method, parallels the method used on the Japanese Abacus.

Though this finger counting method, is specifically helpful for Dyscalculia.

As with Dyscalculia, people are unable to 'concieve' of numbers.

Numbers are concieved of with Spacial thinking, which is how we concieve of quantity.

Which an infant learns to associate with the names and symbols we call numbers.

In the same way that an infant concieves of sounds with Auditory thinking, and learns to associate the names and symbols of letters.

But with Dyscalculia, a Spacial thinking disorder, prevents them from concieving of quantity. So that while they can learn the names and symbols of numbers. They aren't associated with anything?

Just as someone born Deaf, can learn the symbols for letters, but they aren't concieved of and associated with sounds.

Rather, the Deaf community concieve of letters kinesthetically, with Sign Language.

So that they 'feel' the letters.

Where equally, Dyscalculics can learn to concieve of numbers kinesthetically.

So that they 'feel' the numbers.

Where learning a correct finger counting technique, can provide them with an alternative way to concieve of and work with numbers.

Though once the kinesthetic hand patterns for numbers are fully established.

Then actual movement of the hands/fingers, is no longer required.

In the same way, that Deaf people think in Sign Language, without having to move their hands.

Instead, their thinking is done in a series of kinesthetic patterns.

Where math calculations can be done in the same way.

With a kinesthetic mental abacus.

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Chapter 1 of the book Overcoming Difficulties with Number by Ronit Bird is titled "More than 50 ideas to help pupils stop counting in ones". The games involve 6-sided dice, c-rods, dominos, domino cards, and reg playing cards. Shut the Box is listed too. This book also teaches number lines.

I've used books by Ronit Bird and this one. I'm curious. Since you've used RS, have you seen their math games first hand? I've heard of them but have no experience with them.

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