Subject: Using your fingers

My 7-year-old son, in Grade 2, constantly uses his fingers to count.  I know for now this is a useful crutch but at what point should he stop?

Hi Ian,

Children need to use blocks, fingers, etc. to help them add and subtract while they learn. In order to get away from this and to help their memorization skills with the basic facts it may be useful to use a hundred chart and look for patterns. A hundred chart is a 10 by 10 chart with the numbers from 1 to 100 or 0 to 99. By using this chart to do addition and subtraction it may be possible for your child to see patterns. He could use markers or color the squares to represent patterns. Along with this you might also want to use flashcards, but in a different way: rather than just expect rote memorization, you could discuss with your child what strategies to use to find answers. For example, children quickly learn that any number plus or minus 0 will give the same number. Any number plus 1 will give the number which follows; any number minus 1 will give the number before it. Children like to add doubles: 5 + 5 , 6 + 6; what happens if you add 1 to one of the addends (5 + 6). There are a lot of possibilities. The idea is to discuss how to find answers and then proceed to memorization.

Hope this helps. Write again.

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