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Mental Math Games (Part 2 of 3)
In the introductory article, it was argued that learning mental math skills remains an important part of a child’s education, even at the calculator age. So what should you do if you think your son or daughter’s math needs a boost? Rather than rushing to the problem, it is important to first establish how your student relates to their peer group, how math is taught in school, and how engaged they are in the subject. .
Start by meeting with the classroom teacher to find out how your child is learning mental math at school. Is it by using traditional methods that mix rote learning and quiz-like questioning? Does the class use e-learning software to deliver math lessons on a whiteboard or for individual learning? In most cases, teaching will include a mix of all three elements, in which case it is important to find out from your child which learning approach they like and respond to the most. The final question to ask the teacher is how your son or daughter is doing compared to the class as a whole when it comes to mental math. If their mental math performance is average or above average for their age, you can take an approach to improving their mental math skills that uses fun math games and activities, allowing the child to progress at a pace that suits him. However, if your child is falling behind their peer group, a more structured and intensive period of remedial mental arithmetic is appropriate, during which you allocate some time each week to mental arithmetic activities and closely monitor their progress. Whatever approach is required, we’ll look at some cool ways to introduce math into your child’s daily life without them knowing they’re improving their math skills.
Sports and games involving mental calculations
When I was in school, the best mental arithmetic student in our class was a kid who didn’t like math at all, but outside of school he spent most of his time playing darts . He went on to study finance and is now a very successful investment banker, which is a moral story that some parents will like more than others. However, darts is a great game for improving a child’s mental math skills. The game involves players across the full range of math: subtraction, addition, multiplication, and division as part of the scoring process. Best of all, the complexity of the mental math skills required to score and calculate “finishes” increases as a player’s darts skills improve, so your child’s mental math and darts skills will improve. will improve hand in hand. For parents concerned about the safety implications of allowing children to play darts, there are a number of alternatives to junior darts for young children that follow the same format as conventional darts, but without any risk of wound.
The other traditional hobby I advocate for improving math skills is playing board games. There are many board games that involve rolling dice to move around a board, but one of the best board games for developing the full range of math skills is Monopoly. When playing Monopoly, each player moves around a board to buy, develop, and sell assets with the goal of bankrupting all other players in order to win. What sets Monopoly apart from many board games is that one of the players is appointed as the banker, a role that requires them to manage many of the financial aspects of the game, including arranging mortgages on properties, payments and currency. If you place a kid whose math needs a boost in the role of banker (and make sure the other players have the patience of saints) in time, you’ll see their mental arithmetic skills blossom for everyone having fun. The great thing is that Monopoly gives everyone more than enough time for hands-on math practice, as the game has a reputation for being endless. In fact, the longest recorded game of Monopoly lasted 1,680 hours, or 70 days or 10 weeks. Think how good your young banker’s mental calculations would be after such a monumental game and how frayed everyone else’s tempers might be as a result!
In the final article in the series, we’ll look at the role that online math games can play in improving a child’s mental math skills.
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