How do I get my 6 y.o. to stop counting with her fingers? - Mothering Forums

Old 06-14-2010, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter

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My dd just finished K. Before K, she could add and subtract any two numbers under 10 in her head (and sometimes even more than that). I have no idea how she learned it, it was probably from watching me crack eggs into the blender to make quiche or figuring out how many pieces of broccoli that she had left to eat or figuring out how many dumplings she gets to eat.

Ever since she started K, she uses her fingers to figure out simple sums or differences and that's it. Maybe I'm just anal, but this drives me nuts and I don't think I can stand it much longer!

How can I get her back to using her head? I have been thinking about using Singapore Math as a bridge for the summer, but I've only seen the placement tests, but I would think that this is not the solution. My friends praise Kumon to the skies, but their schedule is completely incompatible with my work schedule. Is there a curriculum or other suggestions that you think might help? Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-14-2010, 05:36 PM

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Honestly - I think you need to let it go. If she taught herself to do sums in her head on her own, she will be able to do it again, when she is ready.

In my opinion, kids learn best when they are allowed to learn in their own way. Trying to push something else, especially at this young age, might backfire and make her resistant to doing math at all.
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Old 06-14-2010, 05:55 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by emilysmama My dd just finished K. Before K, she could add and subtract any two numbers under 10 in her head (and sometimes even more than that). I have no idea how she learned it, it was probably from watching me crack eggs into the blender to make quiche or figuring out how many pieces of broccoli that she had left to eat or figuring out how many dumplings she gets to eat. Ever since she started K, she uses her fingers to figure out simple sums or differences and that's it. Maybe I'm just anal, but this drives me nuts and I don't think I can stand it much longer! How can I get her back to using her head? I have been thinking about using Singapore Math as a bridge for the summer, but I've only seen the placement tests, but I would think that this is not the solution. My friends praise Kumon to the skies, but their schedule is completely incompatible with my work schedule. Is there a curriculum or other suggestions that you think might help? Thank you in advance.
whats wrong with counting her fingers?
some kids are visual, others (like you ) are cerebral.

lady Mummy to Smoosh, 8-2005. Waldorf inspired homeschooler and crazy knitter!
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:00 PM

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I don't see anything wrong with her using her fingers to count. I actually encouraged my son to count on his fingers if he needed to at that age. Sometimes they are working hard on thinking about other problems with the math (maybe something as simple as reading it or writing it down) and it helped to have that place marker to make it easier.

Mom to DS 4/24/03 and DD 4/17/06
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:03 PM

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I'm going to have to agree with the previous posters. My almost 9 yr old, rising 3rd grader still uses his fingers to figure out some, but others have been memorized over time.

She's still really being introduced to this kind of math, and as it gets more difficult (re-grouping, multiple digits) it will probably help her to fall back on finger counting to help her maintain the confidence to do well.

~Autumn~Â Â Â Mama toÂ Â (2001) andÂ (2005)Â Â madly in love since '99Â
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:04 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Plaid Leopard Honestly - I think you need to let it go. If she taught herself to do sums in her head on her own, she will be able to do it again, when she is ready. In my opinion, kids learn best when they are allowed to learn in their own way. Trying to push something else, especially at this young age, might backfire and make her resistant to doing math at all.
That exactly. My 8 year old can multiply and divide in his head and he still sometimes counts on his fingers. It's really not a big deal.
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:10 PM

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I wouldn't push that personally. Certainly, there is no need to do extra curriculum during the summer. Using fingers is not a big deal... especially at this age. It does not at all mean she's weak mathematically. In fact, she's already proven to be quite strong in math. I tell you, my 13-year-old STILL uses her fingers at times and she just aced highschool level Algebra II. At age 11, she scored higher on the SAT than most college bound seniors. She's just not strong in rote memory and no amount of curriculum or flashcards is going to change that.

The last thing you want to do is make her feel like she's "bad in math" because she's currently using her fingers. Who knows why she's doing it... maybe she does it because other kids in class did it. Maybe she's contemplating more theory than computation and using fingers allows her to concentrate on higher things. It really doesn't matter. If it's truely bothering you, I'd not mention the fingers and focus on the "fun" of math. Find some great games like "countdown" or "sum swamp" or things that she can play without feeling like she's being judged.

Married mom, DD 18, DS 15, and a Valentine's surprise on the way!
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:19 PM

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letting it go is the best bet... but if you can't?

Use Tally marks on paper to add/subtract... it helps the visual learner but helps them segway into doing it in their heads when they are out and about and no paper handy...
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:23 PM

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I teach my kids to use their fingers. Fingers are great learning tools -- readily accessible!

Is there a reason she shouldn't use them?

Frugal, food growing mama to my four loves

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Old 06-14-2010, 06:33 PM

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I still count on my fingers
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:04 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Amila I still count on my fingers
Ditto...I also use the hand trick to multiply my nines lol

-:Â¦:-â™¥Sarah Lynneâ™¥-:Â¦:-Wife to Michael and Mommy to Austin(5), Steven(3), Tristyn(1), and Laurelyn (6/3/2011)

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Old 06-14-2010, 07:06 PM

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what's the hand trick for 9's? I still use my fingers too!! (sometimes for something SUPER simple because my kids are talking at me simultaneously.)

~Autumn~Â Â Â Mama toÂ Â (2001) andÂ (2005)Â Â madly in love since '99Â
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:34 PM

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The nines..

Hold up both hands in front of you (I do palms out)..

whatever number you're multiplying nine by..(lets say three)

count in three fingers from the left hand(so it would be your middle finger of the left hand)..fold that finger down. Now you have 2 fingers on the left of that finger, and 7 fingers on the right (27).
If you were multiplying by, say 7, still start counting on the left hand, farthest left.. count in seven (that would bring you to the pointer finger of the right hand ..you have 6 on the left of the finger and 3 on the right(63).
Cool,huh?
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:59 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Amila I still count on my fingers
Me too!

It's not obvious at all and sometimes I even use my toes.

Normal is just a setting on your dryer.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:03 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by BAU3 The nines.. Hold up both hands in front of you (I do palms out).. whatever number you're multiplying nine by..(lets say three) count in three fingers from the left hand(so it would be your middle finger of the left hand)..fold that finger down. Now you have 2 fingers on the left of that finger, and 7 fingers on the right (27). If you were multiplying by, say 7, still start counting on the left hand, farthest left.. count in seven (that would bring you to the pointer finger of the right hand ..you have 6 on the left of the finger and 3 on the right(63). Cool,huh?
It took me two tries to figure it out ("7 fingers on the right?" What?!! ), but I got it. It's cool! Thanks for sharing.

Normal is just a setting on your dryer.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:34 PM

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I agree with everyone who said you need to let it go.

As an adult i still have to sometimes count using my fingers.

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Old 06-14-2010, 09:43 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Amila I still count on my fingers
I am teaching dd and when the time come ds as well to use their fingers to help with figuring things out.

SAHM
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Old 06-15-2010, 04:32 AM
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i agree with "let it go."

i still count with my fingers.
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:47 AM

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Agreeing with everyone else. Was she schooled for K? If she was, I bet that's probably just how she was taught to do it, or how some of the other kids were doing it.

CPST
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter

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Thank you mamas for the thoughtful replies. The only reason I am even thinking about it is because it drives me nuts, but based on your comments, I won't let her pick up on that, and I'll let it go. Thank you.
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:03 AM

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Google "chisenbop" - it's a Korean based finger math method.

I haven't read this book about Fingermath, but it looks fascinating and has good reviews.

Consider that fingers (and toes) were the original counting machines, preceding the abacus (and the calculator!) by thousands of years. Why do you think we have a base 10 counting system in the first place?

It might be an opportunity to explore different methods for calculating with your daughter.
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:07 AM

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i still use my finger lol .
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter

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ollyoxenfree,

Thank you for the suggestions and insight.
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:44 AM

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Let it go.

I would also find "fun" computer math games that help route memorization, but let it go.

Fingers are no different than other manipulative you might use.
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:02 PM

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Quote:
 Originally Posted by BAU3 The nines.. Hold up both hands in front of you (I do palms out).. whatever number you're multiplying nine by..(lets say three) count in three fingers from the left hand(so it would be your middle finger of the left hand)..fold that finger down. Now you have 2 fingers on the left of that finger, and 7 fingers on the right (27). If you were multiplying by, say 7, still start counting on the left hand, farthest left.. count in seven (that would bring you to the pointer finger of the right hand ..you have 6 on the left of the finger and 3 on the right(63). Cool,huh?

Oh that's awesome! I'll definitely have to show ds that one. I'm sure we'll be doing times tables this year.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by emilysmama Thank you mamas for the thoughtful replies. The only reason I am even thinking about it is because it drives me nuts, but based on your comments, I won't let her pick up on that, and I'll let it go. Thank you.

I guess I should have said that I do find a lot of the little things my son employs for learning annoying, but since I started homeschooling him I see the benefit, he's learning not only the material but what he needs to learn on his own. I sometimes have a hard time biting my tongue. Example, he likes to walk when he talks. My SIL did too. I don't always 'let him' because there are times that he won't be able to get up and pace around when he's talking to someone. I need to prepare him for that eventuality. So for now I let him sit on my kitchen stool when I need him to be still.

I think tally marks are an excellent approach to weaning from finger counting. I employ both methods still.

~Autumn~Â Â Â Mama toÂ Â (2001) andÂ (2005)Â Â madly in love since '99Â
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter

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Mamas,

Thank you very much for your thoughts. They have all been very helpful and put the big picture back into perspective.
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:17 PM

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I have a friend who was a math major in college who still counted on her fingers!
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:19 AM

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I guess I am the lone dissenter.

I was in a similar position. DS just finished his K year; started it comfortably adding numbers up to 10 or so (from playing around with counting peas on both sides of the shell), and by November was doing serious mental addition with no finger counting. Then, the teacher started pushing ALL the kids VERY hard to do finger counting, and he started doing it also.

I could see that for a lot of the kids, it was helpful, and appropriate for their level. For DS, it was a big step back--previously, he had been thinking through problems in his head, playing around with different mental math strategies, some relatively sophisticated problem solving methods. Then all of a sudden he is not thinking anything through, just doing it on his fingers. I am certain that it was not because it was a method that made sense for his developmental level or was part of his natural process. He's very sensitive to criticism or perceived criticism, and I am pretty sure he switched to please his teacher/do what the other kids were doing.

Anyway, the phase passed, and he is back to more critical thinking, but at the time I also don't think there was much to do but wait it out, and not let him know how frustrating it was. And find different ways for him to be creative with math, as his interest allowed. It helped me to think of it as a strategy that was serving a real need for him, it just wasn't an academic need, but a social need to fit into the classroom.

Heather
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:50 PM

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At the school my kids attend, 1st graders are not allowed to count on their fingers in math class. Before just letting it go, you might want to check. It could be a problem if she is used to it at home, but is not allowed to do it during a test.
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter

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Thank you mamas for your thoughts.

mar123 I will check with the first grade teacher to find out what the expectations are.

Heather, thank you for taking the time to describe your experience. Have you been living in my house this past year? Because you described my experience exactly. The only difference between your experience and mine is that I don't know who gave my dd the idea to use her fingers. It might very well have been in school, but I don't know for certain. In any case, my dd is very much a people pleaser and takes correction very personally, so your comments gave me insight. I will take your words to heart.
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