Fingers for Math? - Yes PLEASE!
Many of us grew up being told not to use our fingers for math. We were praised for memorization, accuracy, and speed. However, it is now becoming more widely known that using your fingers for math can be beneficial and build number sense. Children who struggle with number sense most often do not “see” pictures in their head when working through problems. When students participate in visual activities to make abstract situations more concrete such as drawing pictures or working with manipulatives such as cubes, tiles, or their fingers, they can start to internalize this skill and their number sense can begin to improve. Fingers are the ultimate manipulative for basic number sense because they are not only completely portable, but they are also wired to the brain through nerves and the sense of touch.
In this Readers Digest article, (linked below), the author, Marc Peyser, discusses both the mathematical benefits of using your fingers to solve problems (and the neurological proof, thereof). He also goes as far as to provide one of Jo Boaler’s keyboard activities that parents can use with their child at home to improve that finger-brain connection. (Jo Boaler, PhD, is a professor of math education at Stanford University. If you have never heard of her, you may want to look her up. To many, she is akin to a math god right now. Check out her youcubed web site as well. It includes tons of free resources and information!)