What is UCMAS?
UCMAS is a unique scientifically-proven brain development program designed for children and young people to develop their latent mental power at an age when brain development is reaching its peak. At UCMAS, we are dedicated to enhancing children’s lives where we offer a unique opportunity for children aged 4 to 12 to participate in a program that contributed to the mental health, development and excellence of kids around the globe since 1993 in more than 50 countries.
UCMAS utilizes the "Abacus Mental Arithmetic” skills as a training tool for the mental development of children. Mental Arithmetic is a form of calculation that is solely done by the human mind without the use of pencil and paper, calculator or any other gadget or electronic device.
During the training process, children are transformed into professional users of the abacus, an ancient Chinese calculator, and then a different set of mental trainings allows the child to imagine or visualize a virtual or a “mental” abacus to solve mathematical problems. These mental arithmetic processes will act as an actual training for the child’s mental skills that are occupied during the arithmetic solving process and help improve them.
In Jordan, we are receiving students between the ages of 6 and 12 only and help them improve their mental skills like concentration, observation, listening, imagination, visualization and memorization skills.
Our brain is divided into two hemispheres, left and right. The two hemispheres process information in different ways and work together in our everyday lives. However, about 90% of children use primarily the left brain. The focus of the left brain is verbal, processing information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. It is also responsible for dealing with the present and past, logic, sequencing, computation, reasoning, linear mathematics, languages, and analytical abilities.
The right side of the brain focuses on the visual and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. It deals with present and future, imagination, visualization, arts, shapes, space, intuition, synthesis, and integration of information and creativity.
The human brain has no limit to its potentials as long as it is cultivated at a young age and constantly challenged. In order to explore and develop the potentials of the human brain fully, many physiologists and brain scientists have been studying ways to further develop the function of the right side of the brain focusing on its learning ability, concentration, perceptual capabilities and imagination skills. UCMAS Program offers many building blocks in that dimension.
Besides the visible results that we witness once the student begins UCMAS training, scientists have measured results through many different technologies such as FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and made it easy for us to get tangible proof that our program is as successful as we say it is. Also, these researches continue to take us to new levels of understanding on how the brain works and which activities enhance its abilities.
Why this age group?
According to scientific research, 75% of our brain capacity develops between the ages of 4 and 12 making this age range crucial for mental development.
Children and young teenagers in this age group retain significant adaptability in their brains, which allows growth and inter-connection of brain cells. For that reason, many experts recommend introducing children at a young age to a new language or to playing a musical instrument, as these activities stimulate the brain. It is also easier for kids to acquire these skills at that young age, so what kids learn when they are young has a great influence over their future.
Experiments show that most young children rank highly creative, a function of the right brain, before entering school. Due to our educational system placing a higher value on the left brain skills such as mathematics, logic and language than it does on arts or being creative which train the right brain. Only 10% of these children will rank highly creative by the age of 7. As adults, only 2% of them remain highly creative. That is why the mental training through UCMAS Program targets young children to help promote brain growth and development in general and especially in the right brain for life-long results.
In Jordan, we receive students who are above the age of 6 and under the age of 13 when they start their first UCMAS class.
How It Works?
Mental Arithmetic is calculation that depends purely on the power of the mind, without the use of pencil and paper, calculator, any other gadget or electronic device. So instead of the child using a gadget or needing to write down a problem in order to solve it, you can simply calculate it in your head without any help! Yes! This is possible! How?
First we introduce the child or young teenager to the Abacus. The abacus is an ancient tool developed in China some 3000 years ago. It was used to teach children calculation. Both hands are used to manipulate the Abacus beads, ensuring stimulation of both the left and right sides of the brain. The combination of touch, movement and numerical concept is the initial focus.
Within the first few weeks, our students learn how to read the abacus numbers and practice simple calculations on it. Hand in hand with the Abacus learning, students receive trainings to develop their mental and fine motor skills like concentration, listening, observation, fingering and speed writing. Few weeks later and with training, Course Instructors comfortably take the abacus away and students’ minds gain the ability to calculate without the need for a real abacus, solely depending on their imagination as they develop the ability to retrieve the correct result of the calculation using a "Mental Abacus" which is an imaginary or a virtual device! Impossible? Not at all!
With time students are taught techniques to perform all four mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) using the abacus in a very fast and accurate way exactly as we use modern calculators. The gradual build up of the arithmetic complexity is the technique we use to keep challenging the young learners' minds. With continuous practice, the students' mental abilities will keep growing.
Students who learn UCMAS’s way of calculation will start dealing with numbers as images, since every number forms a different image on the abacus. Using the numbers as abacus images in problem solving will shift the processing of math problems from the left to the right brain. That is how we begin activating the right brain.
The techniques used to train students how to visualize an abacus are genius! We have been training children and young teenagers for tens of years, proving repeatedly that our techniques are impeccable. With millions of students testifying for us through their abilities following UCMAS’s training, our ultimate goal is to bring out the genius within the upcoming generations, making their abilities stronger and their aims higher than ever before.
What are the Benefits?
It is often assumed that learning mental arithmetic is merely a method to improve the speed and accuracy of calculations. For example, adding 10-digit numbers within a few seconds is an amazing accomplishment for most young children. However, it is much more than that. It is developing the mental skills and abilities of the mind such as powerful concentration, accurate observational and active listening skills, strong visualization, vast imagination and great photographic memory.
Here are UCMAS’s main benefits and how we come to achieving them:
Improving Concentration: Keeping track of a long mental process is not easy at all, for example when we are counting money, any distraction to the counting process will result in losing track of the mental task. While visualizing a mental abacus in mind, UCMAS students do their best not to lose it by completely focusing on the task in hand and avoiding all types of distractions. With practice, they master staying focused during the progressively longer time spans that relate to more difficult mental problems.
Improving Observational and Listening Skills: With the help of the flash cards, UCMAS students train their observation skills by taking millisecond glimpses at the image the flash cards holds contributing to the visual and incredibly fast interpretation of its content. The same happens with listening skills, where students have a single chance of understanding a long string of dictated numbers, while doing the arithmetic and giving the answer. This will help students improve their active listening abilities and/or they learn how to temporarily remember these numbers in their short-term memory until they manage to process them.
Improving Imagination & Visualization: Students are challenged to start forming a Virtual Abacus early on and soon thereafter will begin to use their imagination to visualize the abacus and solve problems mentally on an increasingly bigger number of rods which keeps challenging the young learners’ abilities. This continuous challenge of imagination and visualization techniques significantly improves students’ skills in these two mental parameters.
Strengthening Memory: UCMAS students continuously memorize different images during solving problems; they tend to memorize momentarily each image constructed on the virtual abacus before giving the final answer. This training process significantly enhances their memory.
Enhancing Accuracy and Speed: These two traits are known to be inversely related. As one of UCMAS’s greatest challenges is time, students are trained to give extremely accurate results in shorter amounts of time. This challenge teaches them how to optimize the use of time while remaining focused and accurate.
Promoting Creativity: Having developed imagination and visualization as well as memory, concentration and the other mental parameters, the right brain is activated and students will find it easier to be creative and inspired.
Boosting Self-Confidence: As a result of the continuous encouragement and appreciation the students receive from their parents, relatives and teachers students will be given a powerful boost to their self confidence that will further help them in future challenges. Peers and the community will also admire and encourage the students when they attend the different demonstrations, national and international competitions and witness the impressive mental abilities the students own. These challenges eliminate the fear of competition that most young students struggle with at this age, and instead they will strive to prove their abilities in every challenge they face in life.
Laying Down a Strong Foundation for Academic Achievement: Having developed all of the above, it is expected for students at UCMAS to have a better foundation for academic achievement and excellence.
Developing Astonishing Mental Arithmetic Abilities: This is a very natural end result at UCMAS. Students will be able to solve arithmetic problems mentally faster than a calculator! UCMAS is not a mathematical program though, it is carefully designed to enhance the minds of young learners by using the Abacus mental arithmetic techniques; pulling them toward success and great achievements, All the mental skills gained by the students at UCMAS will be theirs forever allowing them to thrive in the future.