Does the Japanese abacus improve underachieving children’s performance in maths?
The Abacus Club reports the results of a pilot study carried out over a period of 10 weeks, looking at the benefits of using the Japanese abacus as part of an intervention programme on a small group of underperforming Year 1 children in a UK school. The study investigates the rate of progress of children who have participated in the abacus sessions against a control group. We used standardised tests at pre- and post-intervention stages which examine a number of features of the children’s performance, including computational skills, oral counting, identification of numbers, objects counting and language. The results show that children who participated in the abacus sessions have progressed at an average rate of 40% against the control group of 8%. The intervention group displayed a particularly strong improvement in their computational skills. Given these preliminary results, further research is required to investigate the extent to which the Japanese abacus can benefit a larger sample of underachieving children in the UK. It is therefore recommended that a more extensive study is undertaken to measure the impact of using the Japanese abacus in raising KS1 children’s numeracy levels.