Should My Child Use A Calculator For Math Work?




This is one controversial topic for parents and teachers.


Whether it is a calculator, multiplication chart, “word wall” for spelling, or any other tool, we are often hesitant to let our children become dependent on a “crutch”. But these tools can be very beneficial if used strategically.


Example: Long, multi-step math problems get cumbersome when doing everything by hand. The more separate calculations involved, the more our young mathematicians are likely to make a mistake. In addition, every minute a child spends on any task drains their attention span and mental energy. (This is true for us adults as well!)


Here is the rule I use when determining if a child should be able to use a calculator: if the whole point of the math assignment is to actually practice addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, then cut that calculator.


However, if the homework assignment focuses on longer, multi-step problems that involve calculations as one of many steps to solve each problem, let your child use the calculator.


Our children, like us, have a limited mental bandwidth. Taxing a child’s concentration on the gritty details of complicated math problems is likely to leave them burned out and making mistakes before they even get halfway through the assignment.


If your child is still working toward mastering basic computation facts, keep that work separate from current homework. Your child is better off getting the point of the lesson and practicing the targeted concepts than getting bogged down in tedious arithmetic.


And no, your kid did not bribe me into writing this post from atop my pro-calculator soapbox.


But…if he did…let’s say the dimensions of that soapbox are 7 inches x 14 inches.


What would the area be?


Go ahead, you can use a calculator.

Ask Heather

Send Heather your question, and she’ll get back to you promptly.