Finger-counting: Should it be Discouraged or Encouraged?

Finger-counting: Should it be Discouraged or Encouraged?

Almost all kids learn to count through the use of fingers when they are getting started with mathematics. But as they grow older, the subject gets more advanced. The concepts and the problems become more complex. During that period, the act of counting via fingers is often discouraged. This is because the practice of counting via fingers is looked upon to be a less intelligent way of thinking. But is it justified? We’ll try to answer this question to the best of our abilities in this article.


Why is the method discouraged?

Like we said above, finger-counting is seen to be a less intelligent method of counting. Most teachers and parents believe that this technique has the potentials of hampering the development of brain. This method’s also considered to be pretty childish; a trick that is used to find out answers but at the same time it does nothing to help the student comprehend the concept.

In fact, many schools have actually banned the finger-counting process is classes. This ban is actually a problem because we are actually confining the scope of development of student’s brains. We might be aware of this fact or not but this ban’s definitely not a blessing in disguise. Finger-counting has more advantages than disadvantages. It’s time we go through a few of its advantages and then you can decide on your own whether this technique is a problem or a blessing in disguise.

Fingers are considered to the 1st forms of visuals

Mathematics is usually considered to be an abstract form of subject. This is one of the main reasons due to which students struggle with the subject when they are at an initial stage of learning. Using visual methods for math lessons can definitely benefit students to a certain extent. Fingers are definitely the first form of visuals and can be accessed easily anywhere, anytime. Any forms of visual math lessons can definitely benefit students and the lessons become more gratifying.

Allowing students to utilize fingers in calculations not only encourage them to indulge in counting but it also encourages them to be instrumental in learning basic addition, subtraction. Fingers are considered to be an alternative to abacus and hence, it can be said from this statement alone that finger-counting shouldn’t be discouraged.

Finger-counting plays a significant role in comprehending arithmetic

US govt. has published a recent study that has the suggestion that finger-based strategies and finger-based representations play a significant role in learning and comprehending arithmetic. The study highlighted in the link above also explains how the students represent their fingers mentally during counting when they are restricted from implementing the finger-counting technique. So naturally, it is better to allow them to implement the technique in the open.

Better performance

US govt. has published another study on “Finger gnosia” that suggests that the benefits of using fingers are more noticeable after a year. Students who have the capability of using their fingers in the best possible way for calculation purposes perform better in higher class mathematics with the passage of time. They also become pretty good with numbers.

Cognitive development

Finger-counting technique also results in an effective development of cognition among students.

It has also been found out that finger-counting technique has many neurological benefits in students. The use of fingers can also be considered the key in learning basic arithmetic resulting in higher IQ among students.

So what do you think? Should this practice be discouraged or encouraged among students? We’ll say that finger-counting is definitely not a childish technique. In fact, it should be encouraged among students because of the benefits that we have highlighted above. But that’s completely our prerogative. You might think different at the same time. In case you do, don’t hesitate to comment below. We’ll love to hear from you.

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes technical and educational content periodically for and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation.
Follow him on twitter @SudiptoDas1993

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