As I've mentioned before, the concept of mental math was something I discovered only after I began to teach math in our homeschool. It was a real eye-opener! We had switched to a new curriculum because math just wasn't clicking. The new curriculum used mental math as a way to jumpstart the brain, get the student (and teacher, in our case) thinking along mathematical lines.
That's why I love the Verbal Math Series books from mathlesson.com. Verbal Fractions presents fractions, mental math style. That means you do the work in your head, without pencil or paper. As a result, you gain a certain recognition of concepts, increase your computation speed, and make the pencil-and-paper problem solving go faster and somewhat easier. The method requires a parent or teacher's involvement (you read the lessons aloud to the student). The material is sequential, meaning you start at the beginning of the book, even if the lessons seem too simple, as from the start the authors are developing a method and strategy for attacking math problems. So, while halves, thirds and fourths may be child's play, it won't be long before your child is working with mixed fractions, multiplication, division, proportions, and more. As an example of this progression, the book goes from a first simple "How many halves are in one apple?" to, partway through the book, "Frank can paint 3 rooms in 4 days; 2/3 of what Frank paints equals 1/2 of what Glenn paints, and also 1/3 of what Kyle paints. After the three had been painting 6/13 of a day, Frank and Kyle painted the rest. How long did it take them?" Can you solve this problem in your head? This book will help your student -- and you! -- do so. Full explanations are provided for each problem.
Fractions are an important foundational concept for work in higher math. Verbal Fractions is designed to help your student achieve confidence in handling them.