Ann Dolin: Many parents are concerned that their children are becoming too calculator dependent in math. They worry that kids are quick to whip out a calculator without really understanding the relationship between numbers. In the end, gadgets only get kids so far, they have to have good mental math skills. Here is how you can find a balance.
If you have an elementary school aged child, be sure he or she can solve the homework problem first without using a calculator. Most educators agree that there is a time and place for calculators. They work best when there is a lot of tedious arithmetic. Still students should use mental math skills before using a calculator, even on these types of problems. This step encourages good number sense.
If the calculator spits out a wild answer, the student will be quick to question if that answer is correct. And lastly, be sure to practice mental math skills with your children when you are out and about.
Take time to practice everyday math together, such as tip calculations and estimating a discounted price. Remember, calculators certainly make math easier, but they shouldn't replace good old-fashioned mental math and number sense.