What is an Abacus?
An Abacus is a traditional, manually manipulated calculator invented by the Chinese thousands of years ago. It is used for doing all types of mathematical calculations including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division as well as decimal and square root problems. These days, it consists of a plastic frame divided into two parts separated by a divider. There is an upper deck of one row of beads and a lower deck of four rows of beads. The beads slide freely on a series of vertical rods. (Refer to the picture above.)
What is the Function of the Beads?
Each bead in the upper deck has a value of 5 and each one in the lower deck has a value of 1. Beads are counted by moving individual beads towards the divider that separates the two decks. The far right column is the Ones column, the next adjacent column to the left is the Tens column, then Hundreds, Thousands, Ten Thousands and so on.
How Can the SIP Abacus Advanced Learning Method Benefit My Child?
Our SIP Program trains young students to use both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. That is, the area concerned with logical operations AND the area concerned with more abstract concepts are both exercised simultaneously. Given this unparalleled approach, these unique and versatile exercises foster and strengthen brain function in the following areas:
- Fosters the child’s confidence in arithmetical calculation
- Develops mental ability in all forms of calculation
- Enhances self-satisfaction of achievement as one's proficiency improves
- Enhances left and right brain coordination and ability
- Enhances hidden mental capabilities
- Promotes intuitive thinking abilities
- Enhances problem solving capabilities
- Enhances creativity and thinking skills
- Enhances retention and recall of both short and long term memory
- Enhances psychomotor skills
- Enhances sensory stimulation by increasing brain neuron inter-connectivity
- Improves concentration spans and mental endurance
- Energizes the body and mind
- Helps release mental blocks and emotional stress
How Does the Speed of the Abacus Compare with that of an Electronic Calculator?
Contests have been held between users of the Abacus and electronic calculators. For addition and subtraction, the Abacus user was much faster than the calculator user, but for multiplication and division the advantage of the Abacus was only slightly slower. There is an International Abacus Association which has met many times, the last time being in China in July 2003, where competitions of various kinds are often held. At these global competitions, students clearly showed that in mental calculations, they were much faster than an electronic calculator!
What are the Advantages of Learning to use the Abacus?
In both China and Japan, educators strongly maintain that the Abacus is essential for children to develop higher powers of mental calculation. It enables children:
- to understand the basic number systems such as base-ten and place values
- to inculcate psychomotor and concentration skills
- to understand concepts of carrying and borrowing in arithmetic
- to understand combinations of 5 and 10 and complements of numbers
- to visualize close relationships between numbers and numerals
- to develop children’s ability to optimize both hemispheres of the brain
Why Do We Need Arithmetic?
Arithmetic is the best way to improve a child’s mind speed, mental accuracy, concentration span and cognitive agility. The understanding of arithmetic through visual sequential stimuli leads to the stimulation and healthy development of neurons, or brain cells, to enhance the learning of all other subjects much more productively. Furthermore, arithmetic is a dynamic process of tackling and solving problems and therefore can not be memorized as such, especially if the calculations involved are long and complicated. A way therefore is needed to capture mathematical problems in picture form, thereby manifesting them on the right side of the brain while the left side of the brain attends to the coordination of the various factors involved. With Abacus Methodology, we are enhancing both functions when children are attempting to solve all forms of arithmetical puzzles or sums.
What is the Difference Between the Abacus and an Electronic Calculator?
In an electronic calculator, the input is given by the child. It is then processed electronically and output is delivered by the calculator. But with the Abacus, the child converts the numbers into beads (input), manipulates the beads (processing) and brings out the result (output). This Abacus course is NOT meant for mathematically weak students but it is oriented to generate whole and equal balanced brain training. After all the LEVELS are completed successfully, the student can carry out the arithmetic calculations MENTALLY!
What is Speed Writing?
Speed writing is another form of exercise used in our Smart Intellectual Program to help students develop peripheral vision to see at a wider angle. It helps to capture information by visually recognizing and retaining meaning of clusters of words rather than individual words. In this way, the young learner develops writing and reading speed that are deemed so essential for all further academic as well as personal pursuits.
How Long does it Take to Learn?
The SIP Abacus Course consists of four progressive levels. The first is SIP Juniors level catering to children of 5 to 6 years of age that takes approximately eight months to complete, especially if incorporated within the kindergarten’s syllabus and timetable. Next is the Foundation Level which is aimed at the young novice within the program concentrating on developing arithmetical working abilities. Third is the Advanced Level which centres upon achieving full competence in all forms of arithmetical processing. Finally, at the Grand Master Level, full proficiency is achieved as the ultimate learning objective of application on very complex mathematical sums, questions and problems that involve decimal, equations and percentages etc. The entire formal training SIP program takes approximately 3½ years to complete. After completing the four prescribed levels of the SIP Abacus Course, dramatic improvement in individual mental capability is typically evident and easily demonstrated in the vast majority of young students.
What is Brain Exercise / Brain Tune Up?
These types of training are very special forms of brain energizing exercises to help prepare students to learn. Our research has shown that such mental activities enhance children’s confidence and self-esteem to perform much better in all their daily assignments. It also helps to release mental stress, mental blocks and integrates both functions of the brain hemispheres to work holistically. In 2003, SIP Academy Program was awarded the International Rotary Community Service Award for its Brain Tune Up project for special children.
Are there any International Competitions?
Yes, SIP Academy together with its international networking countries, organizes its annual International Competition based on a rotation system. In 2006, SIP students took part in an international competition held in Bali, Indonesia where they competed, won and displayed their acute mental abilities as well as gaining exposure to the international competition environment.
Is there any International Grading Standard?
Yes, there is an International Grading Standard. All levels of the SIP Academy’s courses are themselves indicative of the grade achieved. This is a system, over 150 years old, inherited from China and now used internationally in many countries.
How does the Abacus Differ from Traditionally Taught Arithmetic in School?
The difference between Abacus calculation and traditional methods is profound, but difficult to summarize. Abacus calculation relies upon the manipulation of the beads rather than the arithmetic processes with which we are familiar. Thus it draws upon right-brain holistic resources resulting in increased mental speed as well as enhancing users’ overall confidence.
Will Abacus Training Conflict with School Methods of Teaching Mathematics?
There are distinct differences in the two methods. However, if a child is able to start the program prior to, or concurrent with, being taught traditional methods, there is minimal conflict and the child will easily work within both systems. If a child starts the program at a later age, having already received traditional foundations, there may be a slight extended learning period for the child to accept and integrate the imagery method. In our system we use arithmetic as a number-based concept to help the child overcome phobias and difficulties with numbers that they may have been exposed to through learning in a rote method or abstract way.
What is the Best Age to Start the Abacus Educational Program?
Most children start this program between the ages of 6 to 10. The very best age to begin is as early as age 5. It is not advisable to begin any later then age 10 because by this time, brain cells are permanently connected due to stimulation of sensory touch having been inculcated through many other learning tools and approaches. Moreover, around age 11, almost half the brain connections will have completely died off, leaving about 500 trillion that remain fairly constant throughout most of our lifetime. Also, children over the age of 10 may have a steeper learning curve before experiencing the full benefits of our system. However, our system strongly encourages students of age 11-12 also to enroll but we advise parents to make a commitment to monitor their progress
My Child is not Good at Mathematics! What Kind of Improvement Can I Expect?
Because the SIP training method basically develops the mental development of the brain, it differs greatly from that of traditional mathematics teaching and learning. A lack of ability in traditional mathematics does not predict any less success in the program. Our focus is to enhance children’s hidden mental potentials using arithmetic as the base concept, as opposed to more conservative methods whereby mere numbers within a traditional mathematics approach is considered too abstract. In fact, many of our successful students are those who previously experienced difficulty in this subject. If a student is dedicated to the program, receives strong parental support and encouragement, and persists through the initial training period, then improvement is guaranteed!
How Much Effort will be Required from My Child?
Essentially, this is a self-endurance and challenging program. However, history has shown that very few students withdraw from the program until a high level of proficiency, and associated dramatic improvement in ability, is successfully achieved. This is largely due to the extremely positive reinforcement that a child receives as the progressive program begins to take effect. A positive cycle of achievement, and the enhanced self-esteem that comes from accomplishment, begins early and sustains the child through the significant effort that is required.
Do I Need to Play a Role in My Child’s Progress?
In SIP Academy we prefer to use the “Golden Triangle” concept of approach if we expect to see dramatic progress from the child. This proven learning/teaching strategy utilizes the tri-polar relationship between Teacher, Student and Parent and is characterized by cooperation and communication between the three parties. Therefore parents play an essential role in their child’s education, especially in terms of motivating and monitoring the student as well as offering relevant feedback to teachers relating to any problems that may arise. All you need to do is just spend a minimum of 20 minutes per day with your child to ensure he or she completes daily assignments in compliance with our systematic syllabus. We believe there is no shortcut to success, but with this route, a high level of dynamic accomplishment is assured in terms of essential and valuable skills that are transferable to many other areas of life.
How is this System Different from Others?
In the SIP Abacus Program, we emphasize whole brain development, encouragement, motivation and brain energizing exercises that are all based on multiple intelligence concepts. Our innovative methodologies apply holistic approaches and explore the inner capabilities of working from simple to complex tasks. Our methodology is time-tested and has been used in many countries with outstanding proven results. Our SIP curriculum is of international standard and continues to be developed and refined in cooperation with world renowned educational experts. The contents of the syllabus and all teaching materials, strategies and techniques are extremely child-friendly, always incorporating positive social values.
How Qualified are SIP Creator’s of the Abacus Program?
Without doubt, our highly qualified and widely experienced team of dedicated educational professionals is the very best in the field including:
- Mr Kelvin Tham, MBA (Wisconsin International University, USA) as the Co-founder and President of the Asian Abacus Mental Arithmetic Research and Development Affiliation (AAMARDA), has 17 years professional experience in the children’s educational training field. For several years he has appeared on national TV tutorial programs (teledidik RTM 1) teaching Abacus methodology. In addition to his Master’s Degree in Business Administration, his impressive qualifications include: Certified Trainer by the China Abacus Association, Certified Trainer by the Jilin Province Abacus Association (China), Certified Trainer by the Taiwan Utility Abacus Association, Certified Trainer by the International Abacus Association (Taiwan), Certified Trainer by the Hainan Abacus & Account Reckoning Association (China), Certified Brain Gym Instructor by the Educational Kinesiology Foundation (USA), Certified Accelerated Learning Strategies by Optimum Performances (Singapore), Certified Clinical Hypnotherapies Instructor (USA), Recipient of the Rotary International Award for Brain Tune Up Programs for Special Children plus Specialist Trainer in Soft Skills Activities for children from 10 to 18 years of age.
- Ms Alice Kuar also has 17 years of professional experience in children’s special training programs. She is both a Kindergarten Owner and Principal as well as having been the Principal of Saito Arithmetic Training Centre since 1992. She too is a Certified Trainer by the China Abacus Association, a Certified Trainer by the Jilin Province Abacus Association (China), a Certified Trainer by the Taiwan Utility Abacus Association, a Certified Trainer by the International Abacus Association (Taiwan), and a Certified Trainer by the Hainan Abacus & Account Reckoning Association (China).
- Mr James Tham, a college graduate with 22 years professional experience in the Sales and Marketing field.
- Mr Thomas Chai, a graduate from Saito Academy (Malaysia) in Graphic Arts Design with 7 years experience in the Sales and Marketing field.
- Ms Khairulnisak Binti Ahmad, a polytechnic graduate with a Diploma in Information Technology with 10 years professional experience in Educational Program Administration.
- Mrs Vivian Tham, 2nd Class Honours BA Degree in Psychology (University of North Texas, USA) with 3 years professional experience in the program.
We certainly look forward to welcoming you aboard our revolutionary, state-of-the-art Smart Intellectual Program (SIP) soon. Rest assured, it really is the wisest investment you can make in your child’s future!