Mental Math is a group of skills that allow people to do math “in their head” without using pencil and paper or a calculator.
Mental Math is useful in school and in everyday life to answer questions like:
- Do I have enough cash to buy everything in my shopping basket
- Am I getting the correct amount of change from cashier
- When should I leave in order to arrive on time?
For example: Buying a box of 10 packs of sweet for N180 or buying individual packs for N25 each: using mental math to quickly estimate that the 10-pack must cost less than N20 per pack because 10 X N20= N200. This is a better bargain than the second option where each pack costs N25.
What is 47 + 65? It is easier to do this in your head if you break the numbers down into digits values:
40 + 60= 100 and 7 +5=12. Add those two totals and you get the answer as 112.
Doing mental math requires strong memory skills. Math facts and other number concepts have to be retrieved from long-term memory. Our brains also use a skill called working memory to keep track of the steps needed to solve a particular math problem.
When kids struggle with mental math, it doesn’t mean they are not smart. Kids develop math skills at their own pace. Difficulty with mental math could be a matter of needing more time and practice to catch up.
Two resources that can help your kids develop math skills at their own pace with continuous practice are:
- Schofield & Sims Mental Arithmetic
- Collins Mental Maths
Schofield & Sims Mental Arithmetic is a highly differentiated series of graded workbooks proven to raise children’s attainment in maths. Based on ability, rather than age, each book practises the four basic number operations, challenging children to do more complex problems involving logical thinking and to apply knowledge introduced previously.
Schofield & Sims Mental Arithmetic provides rich and varied practice to develop pupils ‘essential maths skills. The series comprises seven pupil books- Mental Arithmetic Introductory Book, Mental Arithmetic Book 1, Mental Arithmetic Book 2, Mental Arithmetic Book 3, Mental Arithmetic Book 4, Mental Arthimetic Book 5 and Mental Arithmetic Book 6.
The books are intended to be used alongside existing maths lessons from your regular maths textbooks.
The books may be used in a variety of different ways, including:
- Individual work with pupils who are confident with the maths concepts covered
- Paired work allowing pupils who lack confidence in some concepts to discuss the questions and think about possible ways to answer them
- Group or whole-class practice, working through a set of questions with a group of pupils after they have answered them
- Homework, with parents and carers encouraging children to explain their working
Collins Mental Maths
Providing plenty of opportunities to improve KS2 mathematical skills, this Maths activity book offers lots of mental maths skills practice and is perfect for use at home.
Tailored towards Key Stage 2, this Mental Maths activity book provides a fun way to test maths understanding and improve various maths skills.
Included in this book:
- Progress charts to help children track progress
- Parental notes to support learning at home
- Weekly tests to improve understanding and retention
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