We?ve written before about howusing yourhands can help your memory. Are your kids?or you?havingtrouble with math? Another reason to use your hands!

Psychologists have discovered that kids who are told togesture while doing math are more likely to solve mathproblems. Researchers conducted two studies with a total of176 children in late third and early fourth grade. SaraBroaders and her colleagues randomly assigned the studentsto do different manipulations. Some were told to gesture,others were told not to gesture, and some were not toldanything either way (they were the controls). These were allkids had made mistakes in solving math problems in the past.

Students had to solve six math problems on a chalkboard andexplain to an experimenter how they solved each problem. Theresearchers coded the children?s videotaped efforts,analyzing gestures and utterances that conveyedproblem-solving strategies.

Children who were told to move their hands when explaininghow they?d solve a problem were four times as likely tomanually express correct new ways to solve problems. Andeven though they didn?t give the right answer, theirgestures revealed an implicit knowledge of mathematical ideas.

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