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Courtesy of Goldin-Meadow Lab

Gestures Help Children Grasp Math

Children who are taught to use gestures to solve math problems demonstrate a deeper understanding of concepts, but why? A group of psychologists thinks it’s because the physical actions help youths understand abstract ideas. A study published online in Psychological Science describes how researchers taught a group of third graders to form a V-point gesture with their fingers (as seen in the image) to signify adding the numbers up, followed by pointing a finger at the blank in the equation to represent inserting the outcome in its place. Children who learned the technique to solve the problem demonstrated an ability to generalize and use the gestures to solve similar questions, whereas kids who weren’t taught the technique could not solve additional problems.

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