## One Thing I learned in Summer 2016 : UCMAS Mental Math

This summer I learned how UCMAS mental math can be used for child brain development and polish right part of the brain. UCMAS stands for Universal Concept of Mental Arithmetic System, where abacus is used as a teaching tool to visualize the beads and perform mental calculations. UCMAS started in Malaysia in 1993 and was introduced in Canada in 2004. The use of abacus stimulates both sides of the brain and abacus visualization increases the speed of performing calculations.

In summer I was doing my regular tutoring of Grade 12 Chemistry, Biology and Physics at the Talent Academy Inc when my supervisor asked me to try mental math training and teach it as a course instructor to kids from age 4 to 13. I was told that it is a challenge because you have to go for a training for a week to Mississauga headquarters of UCMAS and get training after which you pass their training exam to fully teach as a course instructor.

I went for the training and learned how four different exercises can polish right side of brain. These exercises are flash cards, speed writing, jumble dictation and listening exercise. In speed writing students are given a specific set of ten numbers which they write in one minute as fast as they can and do this exercise three times in a row to beat their own record every time, hence increasing their speed and focus. Then flash cards are used which shows how numbers look like on abacus and visualize the beads to answer number quickly, thus improving retaining and memory capacity. Then follows jumble dictation where random numbers are called by the course instructor and students write them as fast as they can which is followed by listening exercise and finger exercise on abacus. Finger exercise requires to strike a proper bead to do sums or any other function as shown in the first figure. After the completion of level of four months, students are able to give answers to  long sums or subtraction questions within a second. After passing the first level,  they start multiplication and other functions. All math calculations and practices are done on abacus where instructor makes sure that child uses the correct finger movement.

UCMAS levels are divided in eight parts, starting from Junior 1 and 2, Elementary A and B, Intermediate A and B, Higher A and B. I successfully completed my Junior and Elementary training in June and August 2016 and taught with complete enthusiasm and passion. This was the new skill I learned in summer 2016, which also helped me with retaining and memorizing numbers. I hope soon I will be able to complete all levels.