What is Finger Math method?

by Johnny Jacks
Discover the Finger Math method, a unique approach to teaching math that helps children easily comprehend numbers from 0 to 99. Why should parents adopt this method and what are the principles behind it? Find out all the answers in this comprehensive overview from goodheathplan.com!

What is the Finger Math method and which age group does it cater to?

As early as age 1, children begin to familiarize themselves with numbers up to 10. This initial stage is relatively simple as children can utilize their hands to perform mental calculations effortlessly. However, as the complexity of math lessons increases, children not only need to calculate basic addition and subtraction within 10, but also expand their skills to include two-digit operations. This transition often leads to difficulties and anxiety among young learners. Fortunately, Finger Math offers an effective solution for parents facing this challenge.

Finger Math is a Mental Math learning method that facilitates easy calculations for children.

Finger Math is a Mental Math learning method that facilitates easy calculations for children. (Photo: Internet Collection)

Finger Math is an innovative technique that enables children to engage in mental arithmetic and perform calculations involving two-digit addition and subtraction (from 0 to 99) without relying heavily on memorization. Widely adopted in developed education systems across the globe, including Japan, Korea, Australia, and the United States, this modern approach surpasses traditional methods where children follow step-by-step procedures on paper. With Finger Math, children develop a deeper interest and enhance their learning efficiency.

At what age is the Finger Math method most suitable for children? Generally, it is most beneficial for children in kindergarten and primary school, particularly those aged between 3 and 8 who already possess a basic understanding of numbers. However, even outside this age range, Finger Math can still serve as a valuable tool for children to practice and improve their math skills in various ways.

5 Advantages of the Finger Math Learning Method for Children

When it comes to the Finger Math learning method, parents cannot overlook its numerous benefits. What makes Finger Math so remarkable that it is implemented in many developed education systems? The answer lies in the advantages it offers to children:

The Finger Math learning method brings numerous benefits to children.

The Finger Math learning method brings numerous benefits to children. (Photo: Internet Collection)

  • Enhances Calculation Abilities: The Finger Math method enables children to perform mental calculations effortlessly within the range of 0-99. This serves as a foundation for developing advanced math skills.
  • Improves Focus: Through continuous practice and adherence to established rules, Finger Math helps children maintain optimal focus during their learning. As the complexity of calculations increases, so does the child’s concentration.
  • Develops Quick Thinking: Once children grasp the rules of Finger Math, they can easily visualize two hands in their minds when performing calculations. With practice, they no longer require physical representation, resulting in faster mental processing.
  • Stimulates Balanced Brain Development: Finger Math fosters comprehensive development of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, unlike traditional learning methods. This balanced approach sets the stage for future success and stability.
  • Ignites Passion for Mathematics: Imagine your child learning through a thinking-based method compared to the traditional step-by-step approach. Which method do you think would ignite more interest? By engaging in fun and fast-paced calculation challenges, Finger Math nurtures your child’s passion for exploring and discovering the wonders of mathematics.

How to Teach Finger Math – 4 Essential Rules for Parents to Know

Every math learning method follows specific logical rules that learners must understand and practice, and Finger Math for children is no different. Here are four fundamental rules for parents to guide their children in mastering calculations using this hand-based method:

Math Finger

Math Finger (Photo: Internet Collection)

Right Hand Convention

In Finger Math, the right hand is conventionally used to represent the units place. Specifically:

Representative No



Index finger


Middle finger


Ring finger


Little finger




Index finger


Middle finger


Ring finger


Little finger

Note: When transitioning from 4 to 5 in Finger Math, children should hold fingers 1, 2, 3, and 4 together.

Left Hand Convention

In the Finger Math learning method, the left hand conventionally represents the tens place. Please refer to the table below for more details:




Index finger


Middle finger


Ring finger


Little finger




Index finger


Middle finger


Ring finger


Little finger

According to this mathematical method, to represent two numbers with different digits, we use the right hand for the units digit and the left hand to represent the tens digit.

Example: Number 2: represented by the middle finger (right hand) + Number 20: represented by the middle finger (left hand) = Number 22.

Convention in addition

The right-hand, left-hand rule serves as the basis for understanding the convention in addition. Once all the fingers in the units row are extended, instruct the child to continue extending the fingers in the tens row. When all the fingers in the tens place are extended, the fingers in the units row must be retracted.

Convention in subtraction

When all the fingers in the units row have been retracted, we proceed to retract the fingers in the tens row. When all the fingers in the tens place are retracted, the fingers in the units row are released.

Parents and children, please note that when performing addition or subtraction calculations with two-digit numbers, we first add or subtract the tens and then the units.

Example of adding 27 + 22: First add 27 + 20, and then add 2. Similarly, if you want to subtract 73 – 48, you subtract 73 – 40 first and then subtract 8.

Where to Learn Math Using the Finger Math Method?

There are several options for parents to introduce their children to the Finger Math learning method: online learning courses, learning centers, or teaching at home without any additional cost.

Enroll your child in an online course or learning center

If parents do not have sufficient time to personally tutor their children at home or feel unsure about their ability to effectively teach using this method, finding a Math center or enrolling in online courses is a practical solution. The advantage of this approach is that children gain access to a well-structured curriculum designed by experienced teachers, enabling them to grasp and understand the concepts quickly. The fees for these programs may vary depending on the specific center or course.

Parents can allow their children to learn Finger Math in various locations.

Parents can allow their children to learn Finger Math in various locations. (Photo: Internet Collection)

There are only a few Math learning centers that solely focus on teaching the Finger Math method. Most centers combine Finger Math with other comprehensive programs that incorporate various teaching approaches.

3 Easy Steps for Parents to Teach Finger Math at Home

If you prefer to teach your child Math at home instead of enrolling them in a learning center or online class, you can learn the Finger Math method yourself and effectively teach your child. There is nothing more wonderful than being actively involved in your child’s learning process, so try to find time to study together!

Steps to teach Finger Math for children.

Steps to teach Finger Math for children. (Image: Shutterstock.com)

Here are three simple steps for parents to teach Math using the Finger Math method at home:

  • Step 1: Engage in a conversation with your child about the benefits of quick calculations and introduce them to the right-hand rule using numbers 1-9. Help them understand the concept and practice using their right hand for units.
  • Step 2: Teach your child how to count up to 100 fluently, emphasizing the understanding of tens and units. Ensure they are familiar with the convention of tens and ones places.
  • Step 3: Introduce addition and subtraction to your child, starting with simple exercises and gradually increasing the difficulty level as they progress. Provide ample opportunities for practice and reinforcement.

Comparing Finger Math and Soroban Math Learning Methods

Finger Math and Soroban are two popular methods for teaching children Math thinking and improving calculation skills. While they share a common goal, there are distinct differences in the curriculum content of these two methods.

Compare Finger Math and Soroban math learning methods.

Compare Finger Math and Soroban math learning methods. (Photo: Internet Collection)

Parents can easily visualize the distinctions between these two methods through the following comparison table:


Finger Math


Calculation range

Children learn to perform addition and subtraction with two-digit numbers (0-99) using the Finger Math method.

Extend the calculation to much larger numbers, up to tens of millions.


As long as children recognize numbers and are proficient in using their hands, parents can let their children learn, ideally between the ages of 3 and 8.

Requires higher-level thinking, encouraging parents to let children start learning from the age of 5.

Study object

It can be applied to young individuals who are not yet proficient in quick calculations and are just beginning to learn math.

The learning method involves a higher level of difficulty. Children who are not yet proficient in quick calculations can learn Soroban at a later stage.

Order of learning

Parents can introduce their children to Finger Math before introducing them to Soroban.

If your child is able to calculate quickly, they can directly learn Soroban. However, if their ability is not strong, it is recommended to start with Finger Math.

We hope that the detailed information provided by Goodheathplan.com has helped parents gain a better understanding of the Finger Math learning method and its effective application in teaching children. We wish parents and their little ones good luck in their studies!

Related Posts