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How to Sharpen Mental Math Skills for Primary & PSLE Maths Revision

A young boy has a math exercise on the whiteboard with a blank answer, thinking about it.

Mental math is the ability to accurately solve math problems without using a pen, paper, or calculator (and your fingers or toes!) Since time is of the essence during PSLE exams, the ability to do Math calculations is a handy tool with immense benefits.

Why mental Math? Let's face reality. Many Primary students in Singapore stumble through PSLE Maths revision because they cannot do mental math. It is a vital skill for learning other techniques at basic and advanced levels.

Why is Mental Maths Important for Primary Schoolers?

Everyone in Singapore knows that Primary school math is no walk in the park. Drafted by the Ministry of Education, the Primary Math syllabus is designed to lay the foundational block for a student's academic journey. Given these circumstances, mental math aids students to:

  • Make sense of numbers, shapes, and patterns.
  • Understand the ways to solve complicated problems.
  • Make unexpected discoveries or new connections.
  • Build their confidence in solving mathematical complexities.
  • Use logical reasoning to arrive at solutions.
  • To try various approaches to problems.

How Does Mental Maths Benefit Primary Students for PSLE Maths Revision?

Mental math harnesses multiple cognitive skills like:

  • Problem-solving
  • Pattern recognition
  • Memory retention

Inculcating mental math from the early Primary years onwards helps children visualise numbers in their minds and solve the problem without resorting to manual calculations. This method also saves them a considerable amount of time doing homework or writing exams. Students can solve the problems confidently and move on to the next sum without having to check for accuracy.

Students can also learn to use math in everyday life with simple arithmetic concepts like addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division to:

  • Tell time
  • Count change
  • Find the percentage
  • Use decimals

Some children are fortunately blessed with the innate ability to do mental math. However, it is also a skill that can be taught as soon as your child enters Primary school and perfected by the time they gear up for PSLE Maths revision. Let's explore how to implement Mental Math for your Primary schooler.

6 Ways to Perfect Mental Math For Primary School & PSLE Maths Revision

1. Master multiplication tables

Multiplication tables are the very basic mathematical weaponry. There are two ways to master these tables:

  • Memorising them.
  • Understanding the concept behind the tables.

To help your child with both, you can ask them to:

  • Write the tables every day (at least 3 of them per day or the ones they find difficult.)
  • Recite tables loudly forwards and backwards.
  • Practice counting by 2s, 3s, and 4s.
  • Use fun toys and objects.
  • Use skip counting.

2. Learn Skip Counting

Wondering what's "Skip Counting" is? It is a strategy that involves counting by a particular number or "skipping over" certain numbers in the sequence. For example, when skip counting by 2, the sequence is 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12...... When skip counting by 3, the sequence is 3, 6, 9, 12, and so on. This method applies to any number sequence.

Skip counting helps your child establish mathematical patterns by repeating the process. The more familiar they are with numbers, the more easily they can handle complicated processes.

3. Chunk up the problem

For PSLE Maths revision, students often make mistakes while handling large, complex problems in one go. The wiser approach is to break it down into three or four parts before finding the apt path to arrive at a solution. This approach will also help improve your child's critical-thinking skills.

4. Make practice a daily habit

Practice is the golden rule to perfecting anything, including mental Math. Daily practice will help exercise their brain and keep it sharp. With a little perseverance and patience, it won't be long before your child surprises everyone with their mental math capabilities.

An over-the-shoulder view of a primary school girl sitting at home, writing and revising for PSLE math, with exercise books and supplies.
5. Understand the practical use of mental maths

During PSLE Maths revision, your child may encounter problems relatable to daily life. Make use of such opportunities to demonstrate the use of mental math. For example, if the problem involves groceries, you can plan a trip to your local supermarket and implement the Math sum while shopping for the same. In due course of time, your child will find numerous ways to experiment independently.

6. Play Math games

A serious approach to math will only make the subject appear daunting. Plenty of mental math games are fun, informative, and educative. Incorporating these games during your child's free time is an intelligent way to nurture their math skills without pressure.

Engaging in these games can strengthen your child's ability to stay focussed for longer periods. Even when it's just "for fun," these games will help your child stay sharp and improve mental agility.

Before concluding, we leave you with three amazing activities to help develop your child's mental maths skills.

Activities to Stimulate Your Child's Mental Skills For PSLE Maths Revision

1. Multiplication war

Here's how the game goes:

  • Shuffle a deck of cards and distribute half of them equally between the players.
  • Place the rest of the cards facing down.
  • Assign a value of 11 for all picture cards and an 11 for all aces.
  • Players should take two cards, read the number and give the answer.
  • The person with the larger answer wins the round.

2. Mental Mystery

Place various objects like pennies, marbles, or candies in varying quantities and allow your child to take a look at them. Next, remove some of the objects while your child closes their eyes. Ask your child to guess how many objects they see and how many are missing. You can increase the difficulty level after each round.

3. Math Jeopardy

This is one of the easiest games that needs no object. Simply give your child a pen and paper, and mention any number. They must use the number as often as possible with various methods like addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.

At the end of the day, Math needn't be as intimidating as it is most often perceived. Yes, your child will make mistakes. But every mistake is a learning opportunity to perfect their mental math skills.

You can also use StudySmart, our PSLE online learning app, to refine your child's PSLE Maths revision. StudySmart is trusted by thousands of Primary students and parents in Singapore. Our app provides an engaging learning experience to help your child with every step of the revision process. Let's get going today. Call us now for subscription details.

For recent updates and news regarding Study Smart Learning Platform, our readers are also encouraged to visit our GMB website.

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