By Allison Gardenswartz, Consulting Educator
My daughter needs help with math. She comprehends math concepts. But she has a hard time doing mental math and still counts on her fingers. Her grades are fine in math, but I am concerned that as math gets more difficult she will struggle.
There are many ways you can help your child improve her mental math.
A great tool to improve her math proficiency and speed is the computer. There are lots of computer games that require a math fact to be solved within a given time. You can usually increase the speed on these games as your daughter's proficiency improves. Children enjoy learning this way, and it is very effective.
Another fun tool is musical math CDs. The Rappin' Mathematician is one. There are several others that help students to memorize facts by learning a song. This method proves to be very effective.
Finally, good, old-fashioned drill and practice works well to improve speed and proficiency of math facts. Flash cards, oral games like Bizz Buzz and quick-timed "magic minutes" are all beneficial in improving basic facts.
The key to basic fact progress is consistent practice for short periods of time (five to seven minutes) frequently. So, if your daughter can practice her math facts three times per day for five minutes each time, it will be more effective than one 15- or 20- minute spurt. Use any of the methods mentioned above for this short practice. Progress in proficiency typically comes pretty quickly and is often self-motivating. As she starts to improve, she will feel the satisfaction of success and be motivated to continue to practice and thus continue to improve.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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