‘My son went from zero to hero because of an abacus’ - Glasgow mum teaches son to become a maths whizz using ancient technique

A kid who was struggling at school is now a maths genius after his mum taught him to use an abacus, which she says can help today's children.
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Dr Rashmi Mantri, 45, used the ancient technique she learned while growing up in India to tutor son Dhruv Maheshwari, 16, after school.

She noticed Dhruv began struggling with maths in primary five and was worried he couldn’t do simple sums.

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But after just six days he began to take to the abacus and was transformed into a maths whizz - with his classmates parents even reaching out for help.

Dhruv has now landed an apprenticeship at drinks firm Diageo and said his teachers would be shocked by his career choice after his maths struggles.

And his mum is using her abacus tutoring to teach thousands of kids around the world.

Proud mum-of-one Dr Mantri, from Glasgow, said: “My son went from zero to hero because of an abacus.

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“Dhruv was in P5 when I started to notice he was struggling with simple sums. I would ask him something like 35-13 and he couldn’t do it. It was really disappointing for me.

“I never thought I would teach him using an abacus, but it was something I used as a child in India and it was always helpful.

“Within six days I started to notice a difference and see results. He can use it much faster than a calculator.

“His teacher saw him using the abacus and thought it was magic maths. He was asked to perform at an assembly and then other parents started getting in touch to ask if I could help their children.”

Dr Rashmi Mantri and son Dhruv MaheshwariDr Rashmi Mantri and son Dhruv Maheshwari
Dr Rashmi Mantri and son Dhruv Maheshwari
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In 2016 Dr Mantri launched the British Youth International College (BYITC) and is now using her abacus tutoring to teach to thousands of kids around the world.

IT specialist Dr Mantri said the humble abacus can be used for calculations into the trillions and kids enjoy learning on it because it’s like a game.

She said: “It struck me that Dhruv’s inability to compute a simple sum reflected the actual situation of maths skills in a great many children.

“I decided to change the way he looked at numbers. We have created a fun and engaging way of learning.

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“Teaching my boy became a fully fledged business. You can do very complex calculations into the millions, billions and trillions on an abacus.

“The abacus looks very humble but it’s not, the sky is the limit. An abacus is a tried and tested method, the Egyptians used them for building the pyramids.

“I think the success comes because children can touch and feel an abacus and visualise them. They become a playing tool for younger children, it feels like a game.

“My son wasn’t interested in maths or studies but since using an abacus his life has completely changed. He is so confident now and I am so proud.”

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By the age of 12, Dhruv was giving online cyber security seminars and is now pursuing a career in data science and analytics.

During the four-year apprenticeship, he will spend one day a week studying Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at Glasgow Caledonian University.

He will spend the rest of the week working on real data and analytics projects at the company’s Glasgow office.

Dhruv said: “I really discovered my love of numbers through abacus training when I was younger.

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“It boosted my confidence when I was struggling with maths - I don’t think my teachers would have guessed that I would be following a career in data science at that time.

“Thanks to abacus maths, I have discovered my passion.”

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