Today you can define mental math in various different ways. Some would say, memorizing times table and remembering the solutions can form the part of mental mathematics. Some would say ability to perform simple calculations in your head can be mental mathematics.

The web dictionary defines mental mathematics as "Computing an exact answer without using pencil and paper or other physical aids."

Today there are five methods available to learn and practice mental mathematics.

Let's begin with the first one called 'Learning by Heart' or better known as the rote memorizing method where your teachers ask you to mug up boring multiplication tables. It not only kills the interest of the child in mathematics but also makes sure that he develops hatred towards the subject for the rest of the years he studies it. This system gives its ardent devotee some degree of success initially as he is able to answer easy problems but then when the supposedly bigger application problems come the steam is almost over.

The second one gives you a good degree of success and I would highly recommend it to the younger lot out there. It hails from China and is popular by the name of The Abacus (also known as the Soroban in Japan). An abacus is a calculating tool, often constructed as a wooden frame with beads sliding on wires. With the use of this tool one can perform calculations relating to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with ease. Gradually one practices with the tool in one's hand and later on when experienced he learns to do it without the tool. This tool is then fitted into the mind mentally and he can then add, subtract multiply and divide in seconds. This tool also enhances a child's concentration levels.

The main drawback of this system is that it focuses only on the 4 mathematical operations. Concepts beyond these operations such as Algebra, Square Roots, Cubes, Squares, Calculus, and Geometry etc cannot be solved using it at all. Also one needs a longer time to be able to fully get a grasp of the system hence you see courses in the abacus stretching to over 2 years which leads the child to boredom and then quitting from the course.

Another Chinese system mainly collected from the book The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art lays out an approach to mathematics that centers on finding the most general methods of solving problems. Entries in the book usually take the form of a statement of a problem, followed by the statement of the solution, and an explanation of the procedure that led to the solution.

The methods explained in this system can hardly be termed mental and they lack speed to top it all. The Chinese were definitely the most advanced of the civilization thanks to the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers but if I were to choose out of the two methods given by this culture It would be the abacus.

If wars have a 99.99% downside, sometimes they can have an upside too for they give birth to stories of hope and creativity. The next mental math system was developed during the Second World War in the Nazi Concentration Camp by a Ukrainian Mathematician Jakow Trachtenberg to keep his mind occupied. What resulted is now known as the Trachtenberg Speed System of Mathematics and consists of Rapid Mental Methods of doing Mathematics.

The system consists of a number of readily memorized patterns that allow one to perform arithmetic computations very quickly. It has wider applications than the Abacus and apart from the four basic operation methods it covers Squares and Square Roots.

The method focuses mostly on Multiplication and it even gives patterns for multiplication by particular number say 5,6,7 and even 11 and 12. It then gives a general method for rapid multiplication and a special two finger method. After practicing the method myself I realized that the multiplication was a very applicable mental method but the other methods covered to solve division and square roots were not very friendly and were impossible to be done mentally. I was in search of a much better wholesome method where I could easily perform other operations also. Another drawback of this system was that it too like the abacus failed to have a wider scope i.e to encompass other fields like Algebra, Calculus, Trignometry, Cube Roots etc

A Recommendation by a friend of mine from America introduced me to what is known as the Kumon Math Method. It was founded by a Japanese educator Toru Kumon in 1950s and as of 2007 over 4 million children were studying under the Kumon Method in over 43 different countries.

Students do not work together as a class but progress through the curriculum at their own pace, moving on to the next level when they have achieved mastery of the previous level. This sometimes involves repeating the same set of worksheets until the student achieves a satisfactory score within a specified time limit. In North American Kumon Centers, the mathematics program starts with very basic skills, such as pattern recognition and counting, and progresses to increasingly challenging subjects, such as calculus, probability and statistics. The Kumon Method does not cover geometry as a separate topic but provides sufficient geometry practice to meet the prerequisites for trigonometry, which is covered within the Kumon math program.

I was much impressed with the glamour around Kumon but a glimpse of its curriculum deeply disappointed me. It is not mental at all. It does not offer any special methods to do mathematics and one does not improve one's speed by doing Kumon Math. There is a set curriculum of worksheets which one does till one achieves mastery in the subject. So say for example a sheet on Divison- one would continue to do division by the conventional method till he gets a satisfactory score and then he moves on to a higher level. This certainly doesn't make division any faster and the process is certainly not mental.

A deep thought on the reason of its tremendous popularity in America led me to conclude was the lack of a franchisee business model of the abacus and the Trachtenberg speed system in the 1950s. The franchisee model was essential in taking the course from country to country. This is where Toru Kumon thrived.

Dissapointed with other cultures in the world, my search made me look in my own Indian culture. What I found astonished and amazed me so much that I fell in love with the system and started coaching neighbourhood students in it.

This is easily the World's Fastest Mental Mathematics System called High Speed Vedic Mathematics. It has its roots in Ancient Indian Scriptures called the Vedas meaning 'the fountain head of knowledge'. With it not only you can add, subtract, multiply or divide which is the limiting factor of the abacus but you can also solve complex mathematics such as algebra, geometry, Calculus, and Trigonometry. Some of the most advanced, complex and arduous problems can be solved using the Vedic Maths method with extreme ease.

And all this with just 16 word formulas written in Sanskrit.

High Speed Vedic Mathematics was founded by Swami Sri Bharati Krishna Tirthaji Maharaja who was the Sankaracharya (Monk of the Highest Order) of Govardhan Matha in Puri between 1911 and 1918. They are called "Vedic" as because the sutras are contained in the Atharva Veda - a branch of mathematics and engineering in the Ancient Indian Scriptures.

High Speed Vedic Mathematics is far more systematic, simplified and unified than the conventional system. It is a mental tool for calculation that encourages the development and use of intuition and innovation, while giving the student a lot of flexibility, fun and satisfaction . For your child, it means giving them a competitive edge, a way to optimize their performance and gives them an edge in mathematics and logic that will help them to shine in the classroom and beyond.

Therefore it's direct and easy to implement in schools - a reason behind its enormous popularity among academicians and students. It complements the Mathematics curriculum conventionally taught in schools by acting as a powerful checking tool and goes to save precious time in examinations.

The Trachtenberg Method is often compared to Vedic Mathematics. Infact even some of the multiplication methods are strikingly similar. The Trachtenberg system comes the closest to the Vedic System in comparison and ease of the methods. But the ease and mental solvability of the other method especially division, square roots, cube roots, Algebraic Equations, Trigonometry, Calculus etc clearly gives the Vedic System an edge. Even NASA is said to be using some of this methods applications in the field of artificial intelligence.

There are just 16 Vedic Math sutras or word formulas which one needs to practice in order to be efficient in Vedic Math system. Sutras or Word Math Formulas such as the Vertically and Crosswise, All from Nine and Last from ten helps to solve complex problems with ease and also a single formula can be applied in two or more fields at the same time. The Vertically and Crosswise formula is one such gem by which one can multiply, find squares, solve simultaneous equations and find the determinant of a matrix all at the same time.

If either of these methods is learned at an early age, a student aged 14 can perform lightening fast calculations easily during his examinations and ace through them.

Vedic Mathematics is fast gaining popularity in this millennium. It is being considered as the only mental math system suited for a child as it helps to develop his numerical as well as mental abilities. The methods are new and practical and teach only Mental Rapid Mathematics.

The system does not focus on learning by repetition as in the Kumon Method. The system focuses on improving intelligence by teaching fundamentals and alternate methods. The purpose is not limited to improving performance in the school or tests, but on providing a broader outlook resulting in improved mathematical intelligence and mental sharpness.

To know more about the Vedic Mathematics Sutras - The World's Fastest Mental Math System you can.

This Article is by Gaurav Tekriwal,, The President of the Vedic Maths Forum India who has been conducting High Speed Vedic Math Workshops for the last five years and has trained over seven thousand students across the world in the field. He is the author of the best selling DVD on the subject which contains over 10 hours on the subject. He is an expert in the field and revolutionizes the way children learn math.

Meet a bright teenager Sandra. She is excellent in all her subjects academically and is quite happy about her performance till she talks about the subject of Mathematics. Math Sandra says give her nightmares. She can't stop talking about this dull and boring subject and how she cried when her teacher put her outside class for getting her calculations wrong. She dreads when she talks about Algebra, where she got a whole lot of red lines across her homework book, for it involves painful memory to remember the formulas. She couldn't even complete the whole math paper for a lack of time.

Her parents are helpless as they went through the same system of education with the same agonies as hers. Sandra now started complaining of a lack of concentration in the math classes and felt her abilities draining day by day.

Understanding her situation her parents got her enrolled into some extra tuition classes, where the situation got a little better but her phobia of math was still there.

Is your child facing the same level of difficulties in Mathematics? Is your child math phobic? Does your child think of math to be colorless and drab? Do you wish that there was some sort of a magic and your child suddenly became a genius in the subject?

Well your wait ends here. And the secret lies in the Ancient Indian Scriptures written by Indian sages almost 5000 years ago called Vedas which means 'fountain of knowledge'.

In these Vedas lies the codes of engineering & mathematics called sutras which claims to solve any given problem of mathematics in any field whatsoever and that too in split seconds. Sounds Unbelievable? Read on...

The name given to this speed system of mathematics is called High Speed Vedic Mathematics which can solve difficult problems like 998 x 997 in less than 5 seconds flat!. It was rediscovered by the Sankaracharya (Pontiff) of Puri in 1918 who was a bright mathematician and a scholar beyond excellence.

High Speed Vedic Mathematics can help you to solve your calculations in split seconds. It can save steps in your algebraic equations by giving you the answer mentally. It can solve cube roots for you in 3 sheer seconds and the best part is it is easy to learn, master and apply. You can find the square roots as easily and mentally as it is adding 2+2 and believe it or not you can even find out which day it was on any given date three hundred years ago by remembering a simple table.

High Speed Vedic Math is far more systematic, coherent and unified than the conventional system. It is a mental tool for calculation that encourages the development and use of intuition and innovation, while giving the student a lot of flexibility, fun and satisfaction. The best part of it is that it blends seamlessly with any kind of math curriculum and suits children of all ages.

Rapid Vedic Math is a fast becoming a rage across countries. The St.James School of United Kingdom has implemented it strongly in its curriculum. "With Vedic Math, I feel like the Harry Potter of Math and can do sums with confidence and ease." Says Ruth a 14 year old.

Vedic Math takes care of the math phobia and instead gives confidence which arouses interest in children in the subject. Children not only begin to live numbers they begin to feel it too. Results then become secondary.

You can visit the author's website  and go through the tutorials section where you can see live examples of this system in working in slide shows and videos.

This Article is by Gaurav Tekriwal,, The President of the Vedic Maths Forum India who has been conducting High Speed Vedic Math Workshops for the last five years and has trained over seven thousand students across the world in the field. He is the author of the best selling DVD on the subject which contains over 10 hours on the subject.He is an expert in the field and revolutionizes the way children learn math

Basically, what the USDA Organic label means is that an agency operating outside the U.S. government inspected the product in accordance with the standards dictated by the USDA and has certified that it was grown by 'organic' methods and that you can be sure of this because the USDA has inspected the certifying agency and accredited it with legitimacy. What the label says about the content of the product itself is not that simple and actually requires a bit of research to understand; Which, even after having done so, does not really simplify the matter all that much unless you are already proficient in legalese as well as the sciences of agriculture.

Never-the-less...

The origin of the label came in the Organic Food Productions Act (OFPA), signed by George H.W. Bush in 1990 as part of a much more comprehensive Farm Bill from that year. It was sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT, who is still a senator from that state. The political momentum behind the Act came mostly from the larger certifying groups of the day such as the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), Quality Assurance International (QAI), California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), the Organic Trade Association (OTA), and Oregon Tilth. Before the USDA began regulating the organic industry by regulating oversight of marketing, the role was filled by private enterprise. Farmers, distributors, and consumers took it upon themselves to employ cooperatives like NOFA and the Soil Association (England) or companies like QAI to certify organic goods. In the years following, the United States government was charged to take over stewardship of the market and consolidate claims under definitive terminology, all in order to promote interstate commerce. The word 'organic' itself did not have a set legal definition until 1995, although it had very discernible meaning to those who sought it out. Since OFPA 54 domestic and 44 foreign certifying agents have been accredited and monitored by the National Organic Program (NOP), a branch of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services Agency (AMS).

The creation of the NOP was the purpose of the act. But the legislation also mandated that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) be assembled by the Secretary of Agriculture and that it include 15 outside professionals to represent varied interests in the organic food industry, like farmers, retailers, environmentalists, certifiers, and such, to serve limited, rotating terms during which they would decide the policies and standards to be instituted by the NOP. In 2002 the NOSB finalized the label in three forms: Organic-95-99%, Made with Organic Ingredients-70-94%, and 100% Organic-which would just be redundant. The definition for 'organic' that they came up with is a bit convoluted but in sum stands for: a term used to identify something produced by methods that are benign to its ecological system and allow minimal pollutants to exist in it or on its surface; Which translates to no use of irradiation to eliminate pathogens, sewage sludge for fertilization, GMOs for promotion of desired traits (allegedly, though I could not find it mentioned in the Code of Federal Regulations), or avoidable synthetic substances, along with a trunk-load of requirements for the certification process, including 5 years of record keeping and a predetermined agreement between producer called an "Organic Plan". When it comes to what would then be 'unavoidable substances', they are included in the National List which would be more digestible in its own paragraph.

The National List is a compilation of substances that are either non-synthetic and prohibited or synthetic and/or non-organic substances and allowed, under the criteria that they (A) were evaluated and approved by the NOSB (B) essential to production (C) were not used to enhance flavor or color (D) had no adverse effect on the environment (E) were not available from natural or organic sources and (F) upheld other USDA safety and nutrition standards. There are somewhere around 65 synthetic substances listed. Many are given specified applications such as Ethanol, Isopropanol, or Peracetic acid as disinfectants and sanitizers, Copper sulfate only for particular rice cultivars, certain vaccinations and medicines monitored by a veterinarian, petroleum-based plastics for mulch... Some are just categories like Chlorine or Coppers or the EPA List 4- meaning a whole other list of things from another agency in a different department are just inserted, almost as a footnote. So, in order to really be knowledgeable you would need a lawyer, a farmer, and a chemist; your only hope of getting a group like that together is if you pull a stool up to an imaginary bar inside an old, interchangeable joke.

The NOSB is the most realistic substitute for your own personal pocket organic panel and they operate far away from the grocery store. So it seems, more so than anything else, silly to condense all that covered distance into the space between your eyes and a little green circular symbol they are scanning on a can of chilli in your hand. At some point, though, you have to just put it in the cart and head on down the aisle.