It’s very important to be able to perform basic mathematics by the time you leave school. You’ll more than likely finish your compulsory schooling with a barrage of algebra thrown at you. More often than not, you’ll have asked the same question over and over again: “What’s the point?”. Well, we’re here to tell you, there isn’t much point unless you’re going into teaching Maths or physics. So let’s way up the odds, the majority of all the pupils leaving school in Year 11 will never use algebra again.
However, one part of mathematics that everyone will use, sometimes on a daily basis, is mental arithmetic. This is one part of maths that is actually useful for us, and one that seems to be neglected in high school.
We take part in mental arithmetic in Year 6 and in Year 9 after that, it’s all funny numbers and letters! None of this is remotely useful!
The part of the brain that assists with calculation and problem solving should be stimulated from an early age. It’s important to start to teach mental maths at the age of 5, this will improve their ability to use four arithmetic rules in high speed: addition, multiplication, division and subtraction.
There are plenty of factors that make this an extremely important part of learning:
– It will greatly improve concentration levels
– It will enhance your listening skills
– It will improve self-confidence and endurance
– Problem solving skills are improved.
– Comprehension and calculation breakdowns are improved
– It improves short-term memory
– Logical thinking will also be enhanced
One of the most important factors to consider in this process is the manipulation and breakdown of numbers in the head. You have to be able to sort out the numbers in your head, incorporating estimation, measurement and place value. This concept will make it easier for students to remember the maths facts a lot easier.
There are plenty of maths tutoring websites for you to learn more about manipulating numbers in your head. The best manner to teach mental maths is to string together random numbers and ask students to find the solution. You have to start simple and allow each pupil to draw their own conclusion and their own methods. With more and more practice, they will develop and individual strategy that will gain speed over time.
The great thing about mental maths, is that there’s no right or wrong way to get to the answer. It isn’t like a written test where the workings out are marked, it’s all up there in your head. Everybody derives a conclusion differently, it’s upto you as the teacher to guide your students towards the best route for them.
It’s important to try and engage in mental maths every day of our lives. This applies to adults too, if you’re out for food, don’t get your phone out to add up how much your meal costs. Stimulate your brain and work it out. We are our calculator and with the right practice we can calculate almost anything!