Mental math is the process of orally asking math questions and having the student compute the math in his or her head and orally answer the question. These are not questions that are drilled or memorized. Often you’ll find two part questions that can still be done mentally but are more challenging because now the whole question needs to be remembered while each portion of the question is worked out.
Questions are often two parts with the first part including a multiplication or division question followed by an addition or subtraction question. When questions include whole numbers and fractions the possibilities for questions is tremendous.
Here are some examples for grades 1-3:
13 – 3 + 4 = (14) half of 12 = (6) 65 + 10 = (75) 2 x 3 – 1 = (5)
Here are some examples for grades 3-5:
2 x 5 + 9 = (19) 12 x 1/2 – 1 1/2 = (4 1/2) 12 ÷ 4 + 6 = (9) 7 x 7 + 18 = (67)
Here are some examples for grades 4-8:
54 ÷ 9 + 67 = (73) 12 x 0.4 – 0.5 = (4.3) (12 ÷ 4) x ⅓ = 1 (-4 x 5) + 9 = (-11)
The worksheets contain 4-6 questions each day of the school week. That’s a total of 20-30 questions a week. That’s over 1000 questions a year, most of which are two part questions so that’s like doing nearly 2000 questions a year! That’s sufficient, but you can double up by doing two lessons in one day. As there are an abundance of questions, we won’t run out and they are designed to use year after year.
This math curriculum is designed to support your existing math curriculum not to replace it. I usually use mental math are part of our opening activities.
Mental math is ideal when it is included in your opening activities, but you may choose to do mental math whenever it fits your daily schedule. While it’s best to do mental math everyday, you may double up on mental math lessons when necessary. Or, you can do mental math 2 or 3 days a week. I find that mental math is best before a lesson and that it is math the student is already familiar with; it should not be new learning. In general, mental math is best when the student is fresh and isn’t already academically fatigued. For most children this is in the morning, but you may find your child performs best at another time of day.