Have you been teaching your younger children to count everything — pennies, Legos, cars, apples, cheerios, cookies? Are your older children adding and subtracting in their heads? How fast can your children multiply and divide?

By all means, give great attention to your arithmetic, as its advantages are so many and important. — Dorothea Dix

Arithmetic is the branch of mathematics dealing with the properties and manipulation of numbers. Mathematics is the study of the relationships among numbers, shapes, and quantities; it is the science of numbers that includes arithmetic, algebra, calculus, geometry, and trigonometry.

Arithmetic is to mathematics as spelling is to writing. Without arithmetic, the other branches of mathematics would be impossible. It is necessary for your children to know basic arithmetic. They need to know how to count, add, subtract, divide and multiply.

These facts need to be memorized and used daily. Dance them, sing them, clap them, stamp them, do anything you can to help your children remember the basic arithmetic facts.

Arithmetic is where the answer is always right and everything is nice … or the answer is wrong and you have to start over and try again and see how it comes out this time. — Carl Sandberg

It might seem easier for your children to solve problems using a calculator, but www.mathmedia.com shares this story. A man became a successful businessperson because he could think on his feet. He could perform complex arithmetic in his head faster than anyone else. He had unique ways of thinking and problem-solving, even in his dealings with foreign markets. Because of this ability, he now owns 31 stores and has 400 employees because he was not dependent on a calculator.

Keeping arithmetic facts in their heads is good for your children’s brains. In the future, they will need basic math skills and values in order to live fully and productively. They will need to use what they have already learned to solve problems in new and unfamiliar situations. They will need to question, analyze, translate, and illustrate results. They will need to know arithmetic for place value and scientific notation and will need to know how to communicate these ideas to others.

Your children will need to use basic math to recognize patterns and judgments as valid. They need practice applying arithmetic to everyday situations. If they eat 3/8 of a pizza, how much is left? If they get 2% interest on their savings at one bank, how much more money will their investment make if they get 3% at another? Everyday situations call for familiarity with numbers used in percents and fractions also.

Mental arithmetic allows your children to make estimations of the reasonableness of an answer. If they can visualize the length and area of a garden in yards rather than feet, they can figure out if you have enough room for a garden. A knowledge of simple planes enables your children to visualize and plan the space necessary.

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. — Eric Hoffer

Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at bettemroz@gmail.com