August 2014

The Importance Of Mental Arithmetic

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!

Business Ideas You Can Start on a Shoestring Budget

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, but you don’t have a lot of capital to invest, there are some great options for low cost start-ups. Making the leap into starting your own business can be extremely daunting, and everyone worries about how they will afford equipment, premises and employees. Choosing wisely makes good business sense, so before you start, why not consider these 7 ideas for starting your business on a shoestring budget:


1. Babysitter

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If you love children, then this could be a great career choice for you. If you have relevant qualifications then you’re more likely to get work quickly, but if you’re new to the idea, the Red Cross run a babysitting course that gives you a certificate at the end. Most parents will want you to have a valid CRB check, which can take anything up to 3 months to come through and must be applied for through an organisation. If you do any volunteer work with kids, you will already have this in place.


If you plan to look after children in your own home, or work for more than 2 hours a day, you will need to register as a childminder with Ofsted. Registered members pay an annual fee of around £100, but you are legally required to register by law, so will be open to prosecution if you fail to register.


The plus side is that once you’ve sorted your paperwork; there’s virtually no other outlay as parents will provide everything you need. Expect to earn between £5 to £15 an hour, depending on your qualifications, experience and location.

2. Dog walker

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Setting up your own dog walking business appeals to a lot of people as it’s cheap to set up and requires little knowledge and training, but this also means that there’s a lot of competition out there. A good place to start is by checking out the opposition by searching on Google. If you find a lot of results in your area, think about offering extras that make you more appealing such as short notice dog sitting services.


Bear in mind that most people will want their dog walked in the middle of the day as they’re out at work, rather than in the morning or late afternoon. For this reason, it’s a good idea to walk as many dogs as you feel comfortable with during these peak hours, without putting any of them in danger.


You should take out dog walking insurance, which should cost around £20 a month, it’s also a good idea to draw up a contract that you and your customers can sign about the care of their dog and your responsibilities. Bear in mind that you really need to love dogs to be able to have this type of business as you will have to be comfortable handling 4 or 5 of them at the same time.

3. Handyman

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Modern lifestyles mean that most people are busy working and don’t have time to sort out DIY jobs that need doing in their homes. This means that there’s a demand for skilled and reliable people who can fix things. Anyone can set up a handyman business, and you don’t have to necessarily be a man; a handywoman business offers something unusual and appealing to other females.


You don’t need any formal qualifications, but you’ll need to know your stuff when it comes to electrical and plumbing issues. You will be asked to tackle a wide range of jobs, so flexibility is paramount. Set up costs will include insurance, work clothes and tools, but apart from this the initial outlay is minimal.


4. Content writer

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If you have a good command of English and enjoy writing, setting up your own content writing business could be for you. Writing high quality web content features is an art, so having some relevant experience will help hugely. This market is very competitive because of the low cost of setting up a business writing content.


If you’re not familiar with SEO, it’s advisable to carry out research into this field, or better still enroll yourself onto a short course as this will drastically improve the effectiveness of your content and result in more business. With online sales booming, being able to provide high quality, SEO friendly content is even more essential for grabbing lucrative contracts.

5. Car valet

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If you enjoy keeping active and aren’t averse to a bit of hard work, setting up your own mobile car valeting business could be a good option. If you’re good at it, your customers will recommend your service to others, and there’s nothing like word of mouth for getting new business in. Targeting offices can also be a good way to get a few customers in one location, and offering a special deal will entice new customers to try you out.


The initial investment for this type of business is just the tools you need for the job; the rest is elbow grease. You will need to take out business insurance for protecting you from any damage suffered by your customers when carrying out valeting services on their vehicle.

6. eBay trader

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Perhaps the most famous auction site in the world, eBay is a great marketplace for selling products. You can start with a small amount of stock and slowly reinvest profits back into larger and more profitable products.


If you spot a niche in the market and can buy your product for a good cost, you can run a very successful business from your own home. eBay let’s you search for popular items, and you can research how much items have sold for by looking at completed listings. Some sellers even buy badly listed products off eBay and relist them with better information and images and actually make a profit.

7. Cleaner

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Starting your own cleaning business like is great if you have little money to invest in your business. The majority of the cost will be in working hours rather than money. There’s always a high demand for home and office cleaners as people will always create a mess! You would need to take out indemnity and liability insurance and maybe look at setting up a team to be able to win bigger contracts.

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