Teaching children to calculate mentally
The ability to calculate in your head is an important part of mathematics. It is also an essential part of coping with society's demands and managing everyday events.
This mental calculation publication has been adapted from Teaching mental calculation strategies – guidance for teachers at Key Stages 1 and 2, produced in 1999 by the National Numeracy Strategy and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (now QCDA). Its overall aim is to assist your planning by:
- listing the number facts that children are expected to recall rapidly
- setting out expectations for the types of calculations that children should be able to do mentally
- identifying the mental methods that might be taught to children to help them to calculate accurately and efficiently
- suggesting a range of suitable classroom activities and resources to help children to understand and practise calculation methods.
The four chapters of the booklet cover:
1. Progression in mental calculation skills
This chapter describes the progression in the number facts that children should derive and recall, the calculations that they are expected to do mentally and the range of calculation strategies or methods that they can draw on.
2. Principles of teaching mental calculation
This chapter promotes a broad interpretation of mental calculation and identifies principles that underpin teaching: for example, encouraging children to share their mental methods, to choose efficient strategies and to use informal jottings to keep track of the information they need when calculating. It also looks at the role of questioning and developing children’s thinking and reasoning.
3. Addition and subtraction strategies
This chapter sets out the main strategies for adding and subtracting mentally. It describes activities to support teaching of these strategies and typical problems.
4. Multiplication and division strategies
The final chapter sets out the main strategies for multiplying and dividing mentally, describing activities to support teaching of these strategies and typical problems.