Jann Ingmire (Futurity) | Kids ‘get’ math when they use their hands

Children gain a deeper understanding of math and perform better when doing a problem if they use hand gestures…In the abstract gesture group, children were taught to produce a V-point gesture with their fingers under two of the numbers, metaphorically grouping them, followed by pointing a finger at the blank in the equation… Children in all three groups learned the problems they had been taught during the lesson. But only children who gestured during the lesson were successful on the generalization problems.
“Abstract gesture was most effective in encouraging learners to generalize the knowledge they had gained during instruction, action least effective, and concrete gesture somewhere in between,” says senior author Susan Goldin-Meadow, professor of psychology. “Our findings provide the first evidence that gesture not only supports learning a task at hand but, more importantly, leads to generalization beyond the task. Children appear to learn underlying principles from their actions only insofar as those actions can be interpreted symbolically.”



Jann Ingmire (Futurity) | Kids ‘get’ math when they use their hands


Center for Gesture, Sign, and Language