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Mental computation: Get your whole school on board!

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Mental computation: Get your whole school on board!

Think Mentals 31/7/17


Do you know which mental computation programs your colleagues are using? While many schools adopt a whole-school approach for subjects like maths or spelling, they often leave mental computation out of the loop. But why? The benefits of taking a consistent approach for mental maths are far-reaching for both students and teachers.

For students, it all comes down to consistency. Having a whole-school approach provides structure for students to build on their mental computation skills and strategies over the school years. It also facilitates a common language for mental computation strategies. As students move through the years, they can focus on the increased difficulty of the maths problems rather than also having to decode the changed language of a given strategy.

The benefits of a whole-school approach for students have been confirmed by many studies. One such study by Rosemary Callingham1 from the University of New England followed schools that implemented a whole-school approach to mental computation. The study reported that students at these schools were more aware and articulate about the nature of the strategies they used, and students’ learning outcomes improved.

For teachers, a whole-school approach makes teaching mental computation easier. When a consistent approach is implemented across all year levels, teachers have a greater understanding of what their students have learnt in previous years. By explicitly teaching a uniform set of computation strategies each year, teachers can focus on topping up students’ prior knowledge rather than teaching concepts and strategies from scratch.

What’s more, a whole-school approach allows for collaborative planning and assessment. A well-scaffolded program provides better opportunities for informal teacher meetings and discussions – an ideal environment for the mental computation experts in the school to share best practices with teachers who may be less confident about teaching mental maths.

So if your school isn’t already using Think Mentals in every year level, it’s time to get everyone on board and boost mental computation outcomes with a whole-school approach. The friendly strategies in Think Mentals are useful for students and teachers alike, equipping children with the tools they need to develop lifelong fluency in mathematics. 


  1. Callingham R 2005, ‘A whole-school approach to developing mental computation strategies’, viewed 28 June 2017,
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