Why use Mental Math?
by Tracy Harrington-Atkinson
“What? I’m not cheating?” My daughter exclaims. Why? Because she used mental math instead of showing all of her work. For years, I carefully trained my daughter to use mental math while driving across the United States, cooking in the kitchen and just doing every day items like turning in our recycling. Her question is valid, though. Why do I bother to teach this to her? Especially when our public school system tends to label her as a cheater?
There are many reason to teach this most valuable skill.
Here are the top ten:
- Builds math confidence.
- Solidifies operations to perform higher more difficult math strategies.
- Occurs daily.
- Uses different ways to come to the same answer.
- Accessibility -may not always have paper/pen or calculator.
- Increases problem solving skills.
- Promotes creativity within math.
- Promotes number understanding.
- Increases thinking skills including comprehension and number sense.
- Encourages an understanding of numbers, not merely memorization.
My favorite reason of all comes from this same daughter, my ever conscious earth friendly child. Why learn it? Because it saves paper.
By Tracy Harrington-Atkinson
Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, a master’s in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.