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Mental Maths

Mental maths needn’t send you mental!

All around us, in every aspect of our life, we use maths.  It is not always obvious as language is, but just consider:

·        how often you have looked at your watch today;

·        what money you have used and how;

·         the mathematical shapes you have seen—from the parallel sides of the roads, to the quadrilateral of your roof;

·        whether you have, consciously or not, thought about how something is bigger, or taller or heavier than something else

 All the time we gauge and measure: will our car fit that gap, are there enough potatoes in this 5 kg bag.?.  We know how to check our change, how to assess the best insurance deal, sort out our family budget.  We do it by using maths.  Many children lack confidence— you are part of the answer. Even if maths isn’t your thing, you can:

·        Count out change in a shop;

·        Ask your children to choose 6 apples or 8 bananas

·         Look at number plates and add up the digits

·        Predict the next house number as you are walking home, or the one 5 houses away

·        Count anything as you walk—lamp-posts, trees, red cars—will there be more or less on the next road?

·        Spot shapes—can you find a triangle, a rectangle, a square, a right angle, parallel lines?

·         Learn times tables whilst hopping, skipping, jumping

·        Count legs on pub signs as you travel

·        Read maps

·        Work out half way home, half a pizza, half anything!

 Some more tricks of the trade:

·        How many knives and forks do we need to lay the table?

·        How many books will fit on the bookshelf?

·         How much did it cost when you bought your comic?

·        Sing songs like Ten Green Bottles and when thats too easy start at 20 and let 3 fall off!

·        Can your child count to 10?  How fast?  What about backwards?  Can she count in 2s or 10s or 5s to 100?  Backwards?

·         Our bodies are perfectly designed for our decimal system because we have ten toes and ten fingers.  If your child uses fingers to count encourage him to put them behind their backs, this helps them visualise the number.

·        Spot care numbers, road signs, doors—double or halve the numbers

·        Can she make a sum with a specific number as the answer?

·         Estimate things—how many sweets in that pack—then check!

·        What time will it be in 10 minutes.

·        Estimate length, mass, capacity, time.

Good strategies


·        To divide by 4, halve twice

·         To multiply by 4, double twice

·        To multiply or divide by 10, just move the digits along

·         To divide by 5, double the number and divide by 10

·         When adding, start with the tens not the units

·         Find the easy pairs when adding—for example 12 + 7 + 8 is easier done as 12 + 8 = 20, then add the 7

·         Count up to do subtraction.  102– 96 is best done by starting at 96 and counting how many you need to add to get to 102.


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