Math facts are sets of basic number combinations for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It is important that children memorize math facts early on. Knowing their facts prepares children for more difficult math classes, such as algebra and calculus, by allowing them to focus their memory power on learning the more complex skills, instead of struggling through the facts. Children can take many steps to become proficient with their math facts.
- Playing cards
- Two dice
- Blank index cards
- Marker or pen
- Math fact worksheets
Even though your child has learned a specific set of math facts, don’t forget to go back and review. Without daily review, children can become rusty on their facts.
If you are having trouble finding a daily time to help your child practice their facts, practice in the car to and from school or other activities. Call out math facts and have your child answer. Also, sing songs or recite rhymes with your child.
Before selecting math facts for your child to learn, talk with your child’s teacher about their grade level expectations. Find out which math facts your child needs to learn in order to succeed at school and focus on learning those facts first.
Discuss with your child which math facts they need to practice. When selecting a set of facts, consider what your child is currently studying in math and how the math facts will benefit them. Decide upon an operation to focus on---addition, subtraction, multiplication or division--and how many facts your child should learn.
Create a practice area for your child to work at, such as the kitchen table or a quiet place in your child’s bedroom. Keep the necessary practice tools nearby, including a timer, printed practice worksheets, board games, computer, pencils and flashcards.
Before starting a practice regimen, write a math facts goal with your child to determine the desired learning outcome. Discuss with your child how many facts they need to learn and a reasonable time frame for learning them. Create a math facts goal contract, clearly listing the goal and steps needed to accomplish it.
Select a practice method, keeping in mind that what works for some children will be different for others. Dr. Math of the Math Forum at Drexel University also suggests considering your child’s learning style when choosing a practice method. Some children love working on computers while others enjoy challenging themselves with a board game. There are a variety of commercial and homemade ways to practice math facts. Board games and other math fact practice materials can be purchased from a local education or toy store. Or create practice games using materials you have at home. Create a dice game by rolling a pair of dice and using the two numbers to create a math fact. Remove kings, queens, jacks and jokers from a deck of playing cards to make a math fact card game. Shuffle the cards and flip two over. Combine the two numbers to make a math fact. Use blank index cards to make a simple set of flashcards. Write the math fact on one side and the answer on the opposite side. If your child has access to a computer, there is an assortment of free interactive math fact games online. Whichever tools and games you choose, be sure to vary how you practice and keep it fun.
After a few days of practice, have your child complete a timed test. Create a free test worksheet at Math Fact Café. To test, give your child a pencil and the worksheet. Start the timer and record how long it takes for your child to complete the selected number of problems. Chart your child’s results. Record all test results to monitor your child’s success. Over time, you should notice your child completing the worksheet faster.
When your child has completed their math facts goal, celebrate with a special treat. It’s important to acknowledge your child’s hard work and effort. By doing so, your child will continue to be motivated to accomplish future goals.
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About the Author
Living outside of Washington, D.C., Natalie Stern has written a variety of public relations materials for political and corporate clients. Stern received her Master of Education degree from George Washington University in 2007. She currently teaches at a local elementary school. Stern hopes to make her own contribution to the children's book market one day.
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