What Is Mental Math and Why Should We Study?
What is Mental Math? Lot of you out there are trying to find an answer to this question. Well, answer is quite simple, mental math is nothing but simple calculations done in your head, that is, mentally. So now you are wondering – well, what is such a big deal, I can easily calculate 10 + 5 and 95 + 100, my 10 year old child can easily calculate 80 + 20. These are some simple calculations. But often in our day to day life, neither we come across such easy calculations nor will your children in future. Rather we come across a bit tougher calculations.
Let me draw your attention to your visit to a restaurant. Have you ever wondered, jeez, how much is 15% of that or 18% of that. Have you been to a grocery store and wondered – how much tax was charged to you? These are the kind of simple calculations I am talking about and not just 95 + 100. So now you got the gist as to what to expect in this article? So before I show you some techniques, let me explain you why mental math is catching so much steam these days.
First, let me tell you some of the long term benefits of learning mental math at early child age. Learning mental math at early age can help boost your child’s confidence when it comes to mathematics, develop mental calculation abilities, provide a sense of achievement as the child’s proficiency improves, lead to greater mental capacity, promote intuitive thinking, enhance problem-solving capability, enhance creativity and last but not least, improve concentration and mental endurance.
Read what past president of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has to say about mental math: “the time has come to invest in helping students build the mental math skills in their tool kits as part of their comprehensive mathematical understanding. The payoff for this investment can be tremendous both in improving students’ mathematical abilities and in giving a visible sign that we are committed to preparing students with the kind of mathematical proficiency that the public can readily appreciate.”
We all have had our share of difficulties understanding and learning math in the past. And the same difficulties face to our children. Let me tell you that yes math is difficult and boring if the numbers and the relation between these numbers are not understood well. Today, most of our public schools teach us mental math in some form or the other and I can guarantee you, more then ninty five percent of the time it will be the most adverse and boring technique of rote memorization.
So what is the alternative? Alternative is what asian students have been learning for decades now. There are two different systems in Asia that can help you conquer and master math. You and/or your child can calculate 1478 + 3456 + 98 – 29 in less then 5 seconds and that too without any help external modern day electronic gadgets such as calculator. One system is the Abacus mental math method which has it’s origins in east Asia and another system is the Vedic mental math method which has it’s origins in south Asia.