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Counting

I recently read an article about how some children are being discouraged from using their fingers to count when doing math problems.

And I thought, why? What difference does it make if kids count on their fingers, as long as they are learning the essential concepts? It seems a little arbitrary to me.

As a child, I was a finger-counter. It helped me to visualize the process, the action and outcomes. Even today, as a grownup, I occasionally slip back into a finger-counting mode, not because I can’t do simple math but because that’s how my brain works. I see processes and visualize steps in my head. Using my fingers as a means of acting out what my brain is doing is helpful.

And that’s true for many others. In fact, researchers have learned that associating an action (using fingers) with a concept (adding or subtracting) influences parts of our brains that retain and process information.

Simple science.

With all that’s happening these days, finger-counting seems among the least worrisome things to get worked up about. I say, let the children count on their fingers. That goes for grownups, too.

And on really tough days, on days when nothing is going right, when stuff seems to be falling apart or going askew or just not making sense, on days when math seems harder than usual…well, then it should also be okay to use cookies in place of your fingers.

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