As a parent, we are always faced with choices.

When it comes to mathematics, the same applies.

Below is a comparative analysis of three methods to teaching the child mathematics.

Kumon Mathematics

The Kumon Mathematics method was founded by Toru Kumon, a Japanese educator, in the 1950s.

This method intends to supplement rather than replace the school syllabus. According to this structure, students are made to learn the subject, not as a group in a classroom but more on an individual level.

It usually begins with recognition of patterns, followed by counting and finally ending on calculus and statistics. There are trained instructors who guide the students.

One of the positives of this system lies in the fact that each student is allowed to progress at her own pace. She can move to the next level only when she has achieved mastery over one. Mastery is defined in terms of speed and accuracy.

The students take an achievement test on completion of each level. The ratio between the time taken and the number of mistakes she makes, determines the group of the student. For each level, there are four groups. The lower the group, the better is the score.

Some of the other advantages of this system are:

  • Since one progresses at her own pace, it instils self confidence in the child without any excessive competition.
  • Develops the habit of self learning.
  • Kumon maths worksheets need daily practice, and hence, require high involvement of parents.

A few of the drawbacks of the Kumon method are:

  • It does not cover geometry sufficiently well.
  • There is no curriculum for mental maths .
  • Progress is achieved by making her repeatedly working on the same Kumon maths worksheets till she has reached a satisfactory level of performance.

Abacus Mathematics

Abacus maths hails from China. It is quite popular in Japan as well where it is known as Soroban.

An abacus is actually a frame, usually made of wood. On this frame, there are beads, which slide along wires.

It is known to have been quite successful amongst the young who are starting to learn how to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. As one gains expertise on the frame, slowly she is shifted onto using the tool mentally.

Abacus maths increases a child’s concentration level, improves memory power, and the speed of response to a situation.

However, its drawback lies in the fact that it focuses primarily on the four traditional modes of calculations. More advanced mathematical concepts like algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus cannot be solved using this method.

Another drawback abacus maths is the monotony that it brings with it. Grasping the use of the abacus and thereafter moving onto mental maths can take well over two years and a lot of course work. This increases the chances of a child getting bored with the subject.

Vedic Mathematics

Vedic maths was founded in 1911 by Swami Bharati Krisna Tirthaji – the Sankaracharya from the Govardhan Matha in Puri. It has its roots in the Atharva Veda.

This form helps a child not only to learn simple calculations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division but also perform more complex calculations like algebra, geometry, calculus and trigonometry. This is done with 16 Sanskrit word formulae.

Some of the advantages of Vedic maths are:

It is more systematic than the above two and has a lot of scope for the development of mental sharpness in a child.

  • This method allows a child to develop her own problem solving method without hindering her to use one single correct method of operation. This makes a child more interested in the subject and also develops her intelligence level.
  • As per the Vedic Matsh, there are just 16 sutras with which all calculations can be done. For example, the ‘Vertically and Crosswise’ formula can be used not only for multiplications but also to solve simultaneous equations and also to solve matrix problems.
  • It does not focus on learning by repetition but rather through logic and understanding of the fundamental concepts.
  • The rules of calculation in Vedic Maths are simple. For example, use the sutra Ekadhikena Purvena sutra (meaning by one more than the one before) if you want to find the square of 45. According to this, as the first digit is four and the second is five, multiply four with four plus one which equals 20 and then multiply five with five which is 25. The solution is thus 2025. The same can be used for all number ending with the digit five.