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In recent times, most of us carry a calculator around in our pocket (smart phones) or on our wrist (smart watches), so why are learning mental math strategies necessary for children?

How does Mental Math work?

Mathematical calculations that are performed mentally, without a calculator or abacus, are known as mental math. Most of us perform mental math on a daily basis without even realizing that we are doing it. You can use this skill to calculate the tip at a restaurant, ascertain the cost of certain items when you are on the road, or convert amounts to different currencies.

The ability to use mental calculations well is a prerequisite for gaining a solid understanding of mathematical operations and calculations. Although many adults are familiar with the algorithms they learned in school to regulate addition and subtraction sums, do they truly possess a deep understanding of what they are doing?

In mental math, calculations are done in the head rather than with paper, pens, or calculators. It is the art of manipulating numbers in the mind. Mental math is something we do every day; for example, when we solve how much time remains in a class, or when we determine how many runs our team needs to win a cricket match. Despite being one of the most underdeveloped skills, it is a beneficial one. The availability of so many calculators on phones and tablets makes it rare for people to do mental calculations anymore.

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How can Mental Math help you build a solid foundation?

As soon as students begin school and usually before they begin formal education, they are being exposed to mathematical concepts. Mental Math strategies should be introduced by the beginning of a child's first year of school. The concept of mental math is introduced to children in an enjoyable, engaging manner to build their confidence. It is true that a child who believes they can succeed at math is more likely to keep practicing and enhance their math skills.  Besides developing children's concentration, memory, and problem-solving skills, mental math helps children develop their problem-solving and memory skills.

Developing a strong mental math foundation is important since it helps children understand number relationships and number concepts conceptually rather than memorizing some steps they need to follow. As well as learning how to do something, they also learn why. Understanding the steps in an algorithm to solve a problem requires more than just understanding the steps. We need to know why those steps are taken. Having children memorize steps in written algorithms can be challenging since they forget how to complete them correctly. Mental math, which teaches a deeper understanding, makes step-by-step processes comprehensible, and calculations are quick and straightforward, even with large numbers.

This sounds great, but how do they learn the strategies?

Students learn addition and subtraction mental math strategies before increasing their understanding of multiplication and division.

There are several mental strategies that children start with when learning addition and subtraction:

  • A method for finding the sum of two numbers by counting on from a larger number
  • Counting back by then subtracting that number from the total
  • When there are doubles or near doubles
  • Bridging strategy to 10
  • Place value while partitioning

During their education, children will be introduced to strategies such as jumping, splitting, and reversing.

Children will be taught the following strategies for multiplication and division:

  • Adding the same thing repeatedly
  • Subtracting the same thing repeatedly
  • Applying place value concepts
  • Factorization
  • Multiplication by the Commutative Property

However, mental math is an important basic skill for children of school age. The following reasons highlight the value of mental math:

  • Boosts brain activity:
    Learning mental math keeps our minds sharp and enhances our learning abilities. Unlike mathematical skills, which are normally associated with the left side of the brain, mental math helps stimulate the right side of the brain, which is responsible for imagination, visualization, and creativity. Using the right brain is the key to solving math problems mentally. One must think of creative solutions and visualize the numbers.
  • Enhances observational skills:
    In the case of numbers, it facilitates the development of relationships between them. As a result, one becomes familiar with the relationship between numbers, a key skill to enjoying math. For students to understand complex math concepts, numbers are important and can be used to create a sense of a concept.
  • Improves Memory:
    Learning mental math requires a great deal of memory. To find out 11 percent of 200, you would first divide 100 by 10 percent = 20; then divide 100 by 1% = 2, and add the two. Therefore, 11 percent of 200 is 22. In the beginning, it may seem complicated, but once you get a hold of it, you'll feel at home.
  • Generates self-confidence:
    Having the ability to calculate 37% of 650 without the use of a calculator will make you look cool to your friends. Being good at it builds your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Promotes good mental health:
    According to recent research, mental math engages the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which has already been associated with depression and anxiety. In addition, the greater the activity of someone's dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the greater the chance that he or she will adapt their thoughts regarding emotionally difficult events.
  • The possibilities are plentiful:
    There are countless ways mental math can be applied to everyday life. The application of mathematics can be found in everything, from ensuring you do not get ripped off at the grocery store to budgeting for your next vacation.

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