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.
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.