There’s something particularly satisfying about solving a math problem in a non-traditional way. Although some schools teach that there are various ways to get to the right answer to a math problem, other schools may want every student to use a standard method to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
Whether your kids are taught a variety of methods or one standard method for each type of problem, when they’re doing their homework - or if you’re homeschooling - there are plenty of math tricks for kids you can teach at home.
What are Math Tricks?
Math tricks and shortcuts are ways to help solve a math problem using unconventional methods or manipulation of numbers to arrive at the correct answer. What’s great about these tricks is that they are often mental math tricks, ones kids can do in their heads without needing a pencil and paper or a calculator. They’re important because these easy math tricks may lead to improved math literacy, better grades, and even an increase in confidence when doing math.
Math tends to be a top school subject that induces fear in kids as they get older, according to HuffPost. Parents can teach fun math activities for kids that include easy math tricks to build their confidence with numbers and equations. This sets kids up for success in their math classes as they enter middle and high schools.
If there’s an older sibling you can get involved with a math activity for kids, that sibling could be helpful. According to Parents, when children teach each other math concepts during play, it helps them understand their math lessons at school better. So make some fun of it, and invite older siblings to help demonstrate these math tricks and shortcuts.
Check out our other math for kids posts:
Math Tricks for Addition and Subtraction
Addition: One simple addition mental math trick for kids is to teach them to round one of the numbers to the nearest ten, and then add or subtract what was rounded off back at the end. It’s much easier to add two numbers when one of them is a ten or a multiple of 10.
Example: 7 + 24 = x
Round 7 up to 10 (adding 3 to it) and add the 10 and 24 to get 34. Then you have to subtract the same number that you added when you rounded. When you add the 3 back on, you get the answer 31.
Example: 22 + 14 = x
Round 22 down to 20 (subtracting 2 from it) and add the 20 and 14 to get 34. Then add the 2 back on to get the answer 36.
Start with smaller numbers and work your way up to two-digit numbers as kids get more comfortable with this math trick for addition.
Subtraction: An easy subtraction math trick uses some addition. Like the addition trick, it gets the child doing the math problem to a multiple of ten to make the calculation easier. Starting with the last number in the equation, round up to the nearest multiple of ten. Then subtract that number ending in zero from the first number. That sounds confusing, so let’s look at worked out in a simple subtraction problem.
Example: 24 - 7 = x
Round the second number to the nearest multiple of ten above it. In this case, it’s 10. Ask your child how many numbers it took to get the 7 to 10. It took 3. (Go ahead and let them use their fingers if they need to.) Put that 3 to the side. They’ll need it again.
Then ask how many numbers it took to get from 10 to 24. It took 14. Then add the 3 to the 14 to get the final answer to the subtraction problem.
To get from 7 to 10 it takes 3.
Then, to get from 10 to 24 it takes 14.
3 + 14 = 17
Math Tricks for Multiplication and Division
Multiplication: When learning the multiplication tables, it can be helpful to have some tricks. There’s one trick that makes it easy to multiply single digits by 9. The answer will always be two digits and start with the number that is one less than the digit being multiplied by nine. And, the two digits will add up to 9.
Example: 6 x 9 = x
The answer will start with 5 because the answer will always be one less than the digit being multiplied by 9. The full answer is 54 because 5 + 4 = 9.
This works for each digit from 2-8 when it’s multiplied by 9.
Division: When kids are in younger grades, they’re often asked to determine whether one number can evenly be divided by another number. These tricks can help answer that question without actually having to do the division problem. Teach kids these easy math tricks for dividing evenly.
There are just a few of the math tricks for kids you can teach at home, and once your kids master these examples, you can move on to others, giving your kids more math confidence.
How a Math Game Helps Kids Learn Math Tricks
Math board games can help kids learn math tricks, too. Math Sprint Game is an award-winning board game for ages 7 and up that teaches subtraction, addition, multiplication, division. Kids can use the math tricks you teach them when playing the game, reinforcing the math trick skills while playing a fun game.
When you encourage your kids to use the tricks they learn while playing a math game, they’ll see just how well the tricks work. That, in turn, will make it more likely they’ll use the math tricks during math class.