How To Do Mental Math Fast From Primary School Onwards
During exams, time is often of the essence. In order to avoid running out of time during exams, it is important to be able to do calculations quickly with accuracy. This is where mental math comes in handy. Mental math is simply the process of doing calculations in your head, without the use of a calculator or pen and paper. This might seem like a small thing, but it can have a big impact on your child’s problem-solving skills.
Benefits of mental math for kids
Mental math requires the use of multiple cognitive skills including memory, pattern recognition, and problem-solving. When your child is able to first visualise the numbers in their head and work out the math problem, it can save a significant amount of time when they are doing homework or subsequently in their major exams. Instead of having to stop and calculate each answer separately, your child can feel confident doing all the math mentally, solving the problem and moving on to the next question.
In fact, by the age of ten years old, your child should be practising more mental math skills such as adding and subtracting large numbers in their head. Not only does it help with everyday activities such as telling time and counting change, but it also provides a strong foundation for more complex math concepts. Many students find mental math difficult, but with practice, it can become second nature.
How can I improve my child’s mental math skills?
1. Introduce skip counting
There are some ways to help your child to master the skill of mental math, and one strategy that is particularly effective is the use of skip counting. Skip counting is a math strategy that involves counting by a given number, or “skipping” over certain numbers in the sequence. For example, when skip counting by twos, the numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12… are counted. This pattern can be applied to any number sequence. When skip counting by threes , for example, your child must visualise the number sequence in their mind and count by threes to find the desired answer.
One of the main benefits of skip counting is that it helps your child to establish mental patterns, which can then be used as a foundation for more advanced math concepts later on. By repeating this process over and over again, your child can build up their familiarity with numbers, helping them to do more complicated calculations easily.
2. Break down the problem
For example, at the Primary One level, one way to make addition and subtraction easier is to break the word problem down into smaller chunks. So, instead of trying to add 21 + 17, your child can break it down into smaller numbers: 20 + 10 + 1 + 7. This simple change can make the question much easier to solve mentally, and it can also help your child to develop critical thinking skills.
3. Play mental arithmetic games
One of the best ways for your child to do math mentally on a regular basis is through games. Mental arithmetic games provide a fun and interactive way to hone their mental math skills, and can be easily incorporated into your child’s spare time. There is a wide range of mental arithmetic game apps available that can promote brain fitness, typically involving solving simple math problems within a certain time limit.
Playing these games can encourage your child to stay sharp and continuously work on their mental agility, even when they are engaging in something viewed as “for fun.” In the process, your child can also strengthen their ability to focus and stay engaged for longer periods of time.
Explore more fun ways to practise math
By encouraging your child to do some mental math each day, you can help them build the skills and confidence they need to save time during major exams like the PSLE. Besides their everyday homework, your child can also make use of Superstar Teacher’s online learning platform to guide them through the primary school math syllabus.
Our online math lessons are highly interactive, providing an engaging learning experience that can help your child make real progress with each session. Additionally, there are exercises for your child to complete so that they can practise what they have learnt as they go.
Whether it’s building their mental math skills or tackling tricky topics, discover how our online lessons can support your child today.