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All students need the ability to mentally calculate math because it is important for them, especially so for those students who are blind or visually impaired. Quite a number of strategies in the calculation of mental math are available and students can learn this starting from when they begin to count and deal with simple numbers. One of the most important things for the students to understand before they start manipulating these numbers in their minds is the concept of complements. These complements also known as partners of numbers are useful in aspects such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
There are four basic approaches that teachers can use to help the students get the mental math strategies. One of these is decomposing numbers, which involves breaking down of different numbers into simple units that can be easily recomposed. The other approaches is making numbers easier to work with, substituting numbers and compensating.
When it comes to addition, the students can use some of the strategies such as adjusting numbers to make it easier for them to add. When handling large numbers, the students can simplify their addition by adding tens’ first, hundreds next and so on. They can also use the additive principle, doubles and facts for numbers that are up to 10 as well as derive other facts from these additions, for example, 3+2 is 1 less from 3+3. In adding nine, the students need to keep in mind that the digit of the sum is one less from the value of the number added to it.
In subtraction, there are a number of strategies that students can use. Using the concept of complements, they can start subtracting the partners of numbers up to 10; continue to numbers from 20 and subtracting two digit numbers from 100 before moving to other larger numbers. The other strategy is to subtract numbers from smaller units that are closer to the subtrahend and then adding the remaining portion, for example, 9-3 can be done as 9-6 then adding the remainder, which is 3.
For multiplication, children will need to know that multiplication is continued addition and use this concept in finding answers. Associative properties of the factors in this calculation and the doubles are also important. Division requires the concept of partners. The students will also be required to deal with larger units within the factors and add the progressive products. These concepts are very useful in ensuring that the students find their way around mental math.
While most students consider mental math a tiring and difficult task, it is an important aspect of learning. Mental math applies in almost all areas of daily life. For this reason, it is important for them to learn the basics at an early age. It is advisable to start with simple exercises and as they age and become good at these, the equations can then be more complex demanding the need for a more thought out process. For these reasons, it is important to choose mental math for the middle grades that is hinges more on mind games. Children from the age of 9 to 12 should cover this though those who are a bit slow at grasping this can also be included in the program.
Since it is a bit difficult for students in this age gap to grasp the dynamics of mental math, it is advisable to start with easy strategies, which built up with time. This is regardless of whether the equations involve multiplication, addition, subtraction or division. By following a sequence, students are able to come up with the right answers until eventually; it becomes easier to solve questions that are more complex. For instance, for students to solve 64 + 77 they have to break this down to 64 +70 +7 or alternatively break it down into 60 + 70 + 11. It is important to note that this requires the student to break down the numbers in their heads and then mentally put them back together.
A percentage of students in middle grade find it hard to calculate math mentally. For this reason, as teachers, it is important to find ideal teaching material that will aid in exploring some of the major ways to simplify this. This is especially true if they are battling with basic math problems. However, it is ideal to provide solid facts they can fall back on when handling computing math problems mentally.
Teachers should understand that teaching middle graders mental maths is a step-by-step process. It should involve asking equations that involve numbers or story equations. Students should also be encouraged to answer them uniformly until eventually they are all at the same par. Also important is to ensure use of the right material to teach them. This can be easy since there are several guides on mental maths designed to cater to these needs.