5 Tips to Perfect Your Child’s Mental Math Skills - Student Resources

5 Tips to Perfect Your Child’s Mental Math Skills

Understanding simple math facts can offer students a tremendous advantage in school. Mental math – the process of doing calculations in one’s head rather than on paper or by using a calculator – can improve a child’s math fluency, allowing him to advance more easily to higher level mathematics. Good memory skills are necessary to do mental math. In fact, memorizing multiplication tables is an example of a mental math skill that allows kids to work math problems in their heads more quickly.

Practicing mental math can help children improve other math skills. That’s why developing the skill of mental math for kids through playing simple, but fun, math games is a fantastic way to not only stimulate your child’s mental math abilities but also an ideal way of improving number facts.

Here are a few of our favorite activities that are fun and support mental math skills:


1. Mental Mystery

mental math tip - counting everyday objects


Have your child count out five small objects such as pennies, marbles, or candy and have them close their eyes. Then hide some of the five objects, while leaving the rest uncovered.  Ask your child to calculate how many objects they see and how many objects are covered. Practice this activity until your child can quickly solve these simple equations. Add one additional object once your child has mastered that level to increase difficulty. For older children, start with 10-20 objects.


2. What’s My Number?

First write out the numbers one through 20 on a lined piece of paper. Think of a number that your child will have to guess and ask them to guess what your number is by adding two numbers. For example, if your number is 12, then they could add 7+5.


3. The Number is Right

mental math tip - using paper and pencil


On a piece of paper, write a number between one and 100 and have your child take turns guessing the number written. After each incorrect guess, you must tell the players if the number guessed is higher or lower than the number written down. The game continues until someone correctly guesses the number.


4. Math Jeopardy

Give your child a piece of paper and then say a number. Give them one minute to find as many ways as they can to make the number using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.


5. Dice

mental math tip - play dice


Using a standard die, each player will roll the die as often as they like and keep a running total of the numbers rolled. If the player rolls number one, the player loses his or her current total and another player takes turns rolling the die. Players can hold their current score by passing on the die to their opponents. The game can continue until each player has had five turns or reach a total sum of 25.

As you can see, practicing developing mental math for kids can be fun.  Learning some basic, but useful, mental math strategies can work to greatly improve your child’s self-confidence.

Key Takeaways

  • Doing mental math helps children improve their math fluency.
  • Kids need strong memory skills to do mental math.
  • Mental math helps children get to the answer of a math problem more easily.

These are just a few math tips that Kumon has to offer! For more information on how Kumon can help your child improve their math skills this school year, visit a centre near you!