New to teaching mental math? Take a peek at this primer from our teacher team to get started!
What Is Mental Math?Mental math refers to the process of performing mathematical calculations using only memory and mental processes, rather than using external tools such as a calculator or pencil and paper. This process of using mental computation often involves techniques such as estimation, rounding, and visualization to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Mental math can be used to solve basic addition problems as well as more complex mathematical operations and is often taught as a way to improve math skills and test-taking abilities.
Why Is Mental Math Important?Teaching young students mental math has a host of benefits that will serve them as they move on to more advanced math classes. As you plan your lessons, consider these benefits that will come from taking the time to make mental math a habit for students.
- Improved Understanding of Mathematical Concepts: By performing calculations mentally, students gain a better understanding of the underlying concepts and relationships in math. This will help them to solve problems more easily and to think deeply the relationships between numbers and the operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).
- Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: Mental math helps young learners to develop mental agility and improve problem-solving skills. It requires them to think critically and creatively, developing their abilities to both reason and critique.
- Efficiency: By being able to perform mathematical calculations quickly and accurately in their heads, our students save time and energy. This can be especially beneficial in situations where a calculator or other tools are not available or practical to use.
- Start with the basics: Begin by teaching basic mathematical concepts, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Encourage students to practice these concepts regularly through mental math exercises and drills.
- Use visualization and estimation: Help students to develop their visualization and estimation skills, which can be useful for solving problems quickly and accurately. For example, have students estimate the answer to a problem before working it out in their heads.
- Practice with mental math games and puzzles: Incorporate mental math games and puzzles into your lessons to make the learning process more fun and engaging.
- Encourage mental math in everyday life: Encourage students to practice mental math in their everyday lives, such as by estimating how much change they will receive when making a purchase or by working out how much time they have left before an event.