It all adds up for siblings

ATHINA MAY

Brother and sister team, Hunta, 11, and Blade Brauer, 9, represented South Africa in the 15th Pan Pacific Abacus and Mental Arithmetic Association (PAMA) competition in San Francisco, on Tuesday December 29, and brought home bronze trophies to add to their growing collection.

The children, who attend Generation School in Sunningdale, and study Cmaths, have received many trophies for their achievements in mathematics in South Africa, and this was their first international win.

Cmaths, which is the acronym for Calculating Mental Arithmetic Tuition with the Help of Japanese Soroban (abacus), is an extra curricular mathematics programme which encourages learning through play, setting aside the traditional “logical approach” to maths.

Lessons are interactive and physical and involve “brain gym” activities, which achieve integration of the left and right brain hemispheres, improving problem-solving skills.

“They have been doing Cmaths for only three years and have excelled,” said their mother, Natalie Brauer.

“It’s helped phenomenally with their schoolwork. In South Africa, children start maths too late and only make use of the left brain when learning maths.

“Both children got really sick, fever, racking coughs, flu and sore bodies, from the flight from Dubai to San Fransisco, but despite getting sick, they still managed to win bronze in all their divisions.

“Straight after they received their awards, we went to hospital for medication. We are extremely proud of our children,” she said.

The family have overcome many life-threatening obstacles in the past, including a car crash during the first week of school in 2011 and the capsizing of the Miroshga tour boat in Hout Bay in 2012, in which two people died.

Ms Brauer remembers how even at that time the children’s fighting spirit shone through.

“We were the first people to jump in the ocean and swim when the boat capsized. We swam for what felt like forever, and after the car accident we had the children were frightened of everything. But they got their confidence back after surviving the Miroshga accident,” said Ms Brauer.