Irena Orlović

Japanese Mental Arithmetic


Workshop for kids (ages 5-12)

If we told you that there was an approach to math and math problems kids would enjoy and even ask for more, would you believe us? Harfa International School from Split proudly invites you to the workshop for kids ages 5 – 12 named "JAPANESE MENTAL ARITHMETIC". Take this opportunity and bring your child to fall in love with math!

But let's set the true anchor point of this story. What is the challenge and why do so many children resist math? The problem certainly is not in mathematics or the difficulty of math tasks. The challenge lies precisely in the approach, and if you find the right one, it will delight students, parents and teachers alike. This approach is called Mental Math: Abacus Soroban.

These popular workshops that engage children in a fun way and connect the English language and mathematics, were designed by Harfa's teachers. The workshops are based on mental mathematics or Abacus Soroban, an ancient Japanese method through which calculations are done using only our brain and an ancient Japanese abacus calledSoroban. Even today, many developed Asian countries, despite all the technology available, still retain mental mathematics as the basis for learning math in their schools.

The workshops are conducted in English, but don't worry. Knowledge of the English language is not a prerequisite for coming to the workshops because children will acquire English communication skills as well as mathematical skills in a relaxed environment and in a fun way. A double take. The workshops are meant for children ages 5 – 12.

In addition to the acquisition of math knowledge for which it is best known, mental mathematics is intended for the development of mental abilities in children who, while attending the workshops, show significant progress in the following areas:

  • Attention - concentration and absorbing information
  • Listening - understanding and attention to detail
  • Learning through tactile, visual and auditory stimuli thus enhancing these domains
  • Memory and reflexes
  • Creativity and imagination, but also the ability to analyze and think logically
  • Self-confidence and self-esteem

In today's dynamic environment, preparing children for the future represents a global challenge. Technology is changing our lives on a daily basis and determining the specific skills that will be needed in the future has never been so vague. However, one thing is clear. We must equip children with skills that will help them accept the concept of lifelong learning and constant acquisition of the necessary knowledge under given conditions. This is why introducing activities like mental math is so important. By attending these workshops, our school children will acquire knowledge and skills that prepare them for the future, not only in terms of education, but also in life.

To register click HERE. For additional info contact us at or via telephone number +385 (0)91 181 9791.

The workshop will be held in the premises of the school, at the address Poljudsko šetalište 2.

The children will be divided by age in two groups:

Children age 5-7 - Tuesday and Thursday at 17:30 (1 school hour)

Children age 8- 12 - Thursday 18.00 - 19.30

The price of the course is 60 euros per month and the first stage lasts 30 school hours.


In general, the application of mental arithmetic activates mental potentials and enables better success in education, but also in other aspects of life. How? Working on the abacus uses not only the left side of the brain, but both; the left and right side. Why is that important?

How does the brain work?

To better understand how Soroban mental arithmetic works, we must first understand how the brain works. The brain consists of two main hemispheres; the left and right. Each of us has a dominant hemisphere we rely on in our daily lives. The left hemisphere regulates the logical and systematic processing and storage of information, and we associate it with the processes of reasoning, analyzing, speaking and solving mathematical problems. The right hemisphere has a holistic function, such as color recognition, geometric shapes, music, art and skills.

The concept of Soroban using both hands in mental arithmetic requires the combined use of both the left and the right hemispheres of the brain, thus a more balanced development of the brain and thought process. Since both sides of the brain are connected by a common process, learning becomes more successful, and a significant improvement in concentration, memory and creativity is achieved.

What is an abacus?

The story of the abacus begins in Mesopotamia, with pebbles in the sand. Over a long period of time, the idea traveled across the continent to reach Japan in the Edo period (approximately 1600-1850).

During that period, the priests in temples taught children to read, write and calculate on the abacus. The development of Japanese education started from these schools, and it is also important to note that in the largest economies of East Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea) the abacus is still part of the curriculum in most schools.

Who is the abacus soroban for?

Abacus is a wonderful "mental sport" that trains the brain.

Although it is intended for children, abacus is getting more and more popular among adults. Because of the way it is taught, not involving formal knowledge of numbers, it can also be used by kindergarten children introducing in this way the idea of ​​numbers. Since all generations can learn the abacus in today's, mostly virtual, life, this is a great opportunity for all generations to meet and enhance their social and family connections.

Who needs an abacus when everyone has cell phones and why should abacus be used in kindergartens and schools?

Abacus and cell phones really have nothing to do with each other. Nowadays, the abacus is not only a tool for calculation, but also for exercising the brain. In many countries, formal education places great emphasis on subjects that use the left side of the brain, but as creative thinking is increasingly needed, the need for activities that develop the right side is growing. This is why activities, such as abacus, are so important and are getting introduced more and more to kindergartens and schools worldwide.

Considering that calculation is often practiced in a limited time, through practice one learns to make better use of time, as well as the speed of calculation. One unconsciously learns to think about every minute and second. Given that proposed problems become longer and more complicated over time, one also practices concentration and willpower.

Numbers are much less scary for children when they can visualize them, which later helps them to calculate in their head and thus develop the right side of the brain. Children also find it fun to compete in solving tasks quickly, so through rivalry they learn to always try to be better. In addition, for example, the skill of dividing in abacus, develops the ability to make good judgment in children.

Probably the most useful role of the abacus is that it serves as a tool to introduce children to mathematics without resistance to numbers. It is an especially useful tool for children who are convinced that they are not good at math because this tool uses the other side of the brain and children do not feel like they are doing math.

In today's dynamic environment, preparing children for the future is certainly a challenge. Technology changes our lives on a daily basis and what will be needed in the times to come can be quite vague to conclude. But one thing is clear. Critical thinking and problem solving will be essential. This is why we need to make our children prepared for these specific skills and needs. This is why introducing activities like abacus is so important.

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