I have always regretted not starting Doman’s Red Dot Program early enough with Aristotle. By the time I learned about it, he was too opinionated about what he wanted to learn about and Math was not it. Thankfully, I started Hercules on Little Math early and now he loves numbers and Math.

To help Aristotle along, I considered various Mental Math programs and finally settled on Anzan – the Japanese method of teaching Mental Math using the Soroban (Japanese abacus). Although there are a couple of schools that teach this program in Malaysia (Aloha Mental Arithmetic and CMA Mental Arithmetic), I elected to take the online program Math Secret instead because it gave us the opportunity to work at our own pace. Given Aristotle’s unenthusiastic response towards Math, I’m sure having to attend regular classes weekly would not have sat well. Thankfully, we’ve discovered a mutually agreeable arrangement – Cheezels for every lesson he takes. It’s surprising how much enthusiasm he can muster for his Math lessons with the promise of a few Cheezels…

Teaching Aristotle Math has not been easy. Given his resistence towards the subject, I do wonder sometimes why I keep persisting with it. Oh I give him long breaks from the subject to see if it might help spark some interest but so far he has remained steadfast in his disinterest in the subject. Okay, so maybe I do know why I keep persisting – it is because I view arithmetic as one of the three essential subjects my boys must learn (the other two being reading and writing). They can forego anything else, but these three, they must learn because they are pervasive in everyday life. Technology may have taken over the world, but until the pen and paper become obsolete, being able to write is still a requirement. Reading opens the doors to learning – if you know how to read, you can learn anything. Math and numbers are also an inherent part of our lives – from the calculation of change at the supermarket to stock taking to measurements for a new home.

And so, like it or not, we persist with Math. While I’m sure there are other ways to teach Math other than the Anzan/Soroban method, an article I read recently on Soroban and the Right Brain reassures me that this is a good method to follow. You can click on the link to read the article in its entirety, but here is the gist of it:

**Abacus Learning has a Ripple Effect**

- It improves numerical memory
- It improves memory in spatial arrangement
- It improves the ability to solve general Mathematical problems taught in elementary school including the four fundamental arithmetic calculations and word problems

**Abacus Learning and Brain Development**

Learning the abacus provides stimuli that helps to develop the brains in young children. For this reason, learning the abacus from an eary age can be beneficial to a child’s brain development. And because abacus training eventually leads to visualisation of a mental abacus in the mind, it also helps to develop the right brain which is important for creativity and artistic sense. Additionally, the practice of visualising a mental abacus trains the photographic memory function of the right brain as some individuals have shown the ability to recall whole pages from books.

Abacus training has also been known to help stave off mental decline that occurs with age, so it is not only beneficial for young children, but the elderly can also benefit from it.

**Mathematical Skills and Confidence**

Last but not least, the ability to excel in a subject can increase confidence which can positively affect success rates in other subjects.