At What Age Should We Allow Children To Utilize Calculators To Solve Math Problems?
We are taught to solve mathematical problems in several different ways. The pencil and paper methods are the most popular way we teach children to solve math problems. Students are also asked to learn how to use mental math to quickly solve math problems without the use of paper and pencil. Lastly, students are asked to utilize the calculator to complete the majority of their computation problems. The calculator is the method that has caused a lot of discussions. This question is always asked: At what age should we use this tool to teach our children to solve mathematical problems?
Some people believe that the calculator enables the children to focus more on mathematical understanding and concepts instead of spending time on teaching computation skills. This machine can help children complete complicated mathematical operations. The teacher can spend more time teaching mathematical concepts, thus more mathematics can be taught each class period. Teachers are always under pressure to teach a certain number of concepts in each class period, and if students have to spend a lot of time completing simple computations, how can they teach new concepts?
Furthermore, some students become upset because they don’t have the time to complete their math problems. This is in part because they don’t have a good understanding of math computation skills. This may cause students to be disruptive or less focused in class. Some of these students have been allowed to utilize the calculator in class because the teacher doesn’t want to spend extra time teaching these students the basic skills that they missed in their earlier grades. So, the calculator is used to allow the teacher to continue teaching the lesson Cours particuliers Maths.
Research has also said that children can use the calculator at any grade level, as long as they are utilized properly. The research says that the calculator should be used as a supplement to learning and not as a replacement. Also, the teacher must be educated as to how to utilize the calculator in the classroom instruction. Research also states that most teachers are not trained in the use or misuse of calculators in classroom instruction.
This information is important, but let us not forget if students start using a calculator to solve simple math computations at a young age, what is going to stop them from becoming dependent on them in the future? When will they learn their time tables? In Japan, where children’s math scores are very high, children are not allowed to use calculators until they reach the middle school level. Even then, students use the calculator sparingly. I suspect they use them at the high school level in the higher-level classes, like calculus.
Students who become dependent upon using calculators are losing their mental computation skills. This can hurt them in the long run when more mental computation may be needed. The old saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”, is true. Students who stop utilizing their brains to do math computations will forget simple mathematical tasks, thus math will become harder for them. This is happening all over the United States.
Calculators, in general, are not bad and at some point in a child’s education, they should learn to use them. However, during the early years of learning mathematical concepts and skills, the paper/ pencil and mental math methods should be stressed. Early reliance upon calculators can cause children to develop poor computation skills. Math problems at the earlier ages must be taught in repetition to gain a thorough knowledge of the skill. Children who learn to do mental math computations are developing strong computation skills that will be useful in their later years and everyday life.
My son was enrolled in a second-grade class that did a lot of mental math to solve problems. Students were asked multiple math computation problems and asked to come up with the answer using their brains. Those students learned how to mentally solve multiple computation problems. All of them eventually became good math students, including my son. What would have happened to those students if they were allowed to use a calculator every time the teacher asked for the answers to those math problems?
Let’s face it, in today’s world, we depend on machines, tools, computers, and cell phones to do almost everything for us. Almost every gadget has a calculator in it, from our cars to the cash register. That dependence has caused our society to lose some of its mathematical skills base. When we go to a fast food or grocery store, the cash register totals everything. All the person behind the register has to do is give the change that the “machine” tells them to give. No thinking is involved. Back in the day, all stores had someone on the register that could add and subtract and give out the “correct change” that they counted back to the customer. Yes, the thinking was involved! This should tell society that maybe we are doing something wrong because so many people are having trouble with math.
When we think about how people learned math years ago, they were taught how to memorize their multiplication tables that led to students knowing how to complete math computation problems. That is called mental math and most of us still remember our multiplication facts today. Moreover, the United States was one of the top academic powers in the world. This country was also strong in mathematics. What has changed? The technology was supposed to make us smarter. One thing that has changed is how we use calculators in the classroom. (I must also admit that our society has changed along with family priorities. Education seems to have taken a back seat in many homes in this country)
This article is not trying to say that we don’t need technology, or that the invention of the calculator is a bad thing. Technology has been helpful for us, but we must be careful about how and when we use it. Allowing a child to use the calculator regularly early in their educational journey can lead to stunting the mathematical growth of that child. If a child doesn’t develop those mental computational skills at an early age, he/she will have a harder time learning math as they grow older. This seems to be very evident because of the problems our children are having with math today.
As a child grows older and develops good math computation skills through the use of pencil/paper and mental math, the calculator can then be a useful tool to support their learning. When children reach high school age and are taking higher-level math classes, the calculator can be a very useful tool. At the high school level, some of the math problems will require several computational steps requiring a lot of time to complete if the student doesn’t have the use of a calculator. This is a good time to utilize the calculator. This will free up time so the teacher can cover more material in class. Also, high school students take several standardized exams that allow them to utilize a calculator.