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Free ways to teach your child math with the CalQ app

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As an Internet Deals reporter here on Examiner, this writer is used to uncovering plenty of tech gadgets on sale or coupon codes for HDTV systems or Blu Ray players and the like to pass on the savings tips to readers. Sometimes, however, I've learned that a good part of the best deals on technologically based items can be found directly in the iTunes App Store, Amazon’s App Store and the Google Play Store. I'm talking about free apps, and the latest one that's gotten action on my mobile devices is called CalQ, a mathematics game that I realized could genuinely help parents teach their children how to improve their arithmetic skills at no cost. (Find the iOS version on iTunes and the Android version on Google Play.)

After getting the gist of the gameplay, which is described pretty succinctly in the opening few informational screens after downloading the app, the user can keep trying to best their own scores by rapidly figuring out the correct combination of positive and negative numbers to add, subtract or multiply together to come up with the target number that represents the proper product or sum. With each correct answer, blocks of numbers fall away and make room for new ones, as the player’s score increases accordingly.

I've played the popular app myself several times, which is quite a feat for this non-gamer. Later, I gave my 11-year-old daughter a quick lesson and helped her play it for the first time. Although she pronounced it difficult at first glance – after all, she's a visually illustrative artist who is more used to Temple Run 2 and Bouncing Slime apps, but still has an aptitude for math – I plan to continue to expose her to the app, because it's a whole lot cheaper to utilize free learning games like CalQ to teach kids math than to pay for a summer stint of lessons at places like Sylvan Learning Center, in hopes of helping them retain the lessons they've learned throughout the semesters of school.

My 13-year-old son, surprisingly, enjoyed playing CalQ quite a bit after his first try at the game. He called it a challenging game that can help his brain, perhaps due to the fact that the player must exercise fast calculation techniques because you're racing against a clock. And it's great because the user isn't relying on an Excel spreadsheet, Google’s great search box or a mobile device’s calculator to figure out the correct way to solve each rapid round. Instead, they are depending on their own minds to come up with a solution. Talk about synapses snapping!

Any gaming app that is fun and educational enough to get the kids away from Grand Theft Auto V, Naruto or Call of Duty – even if it's only for an hour at a stretch – is definitely worth the space on your smartphone, tablet or computer. And if it helps them become all the more prepared for the coming school years, that's more than worth the price of adm

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