The time you will invest in setting up a math facts program will be well worth it. Number lines, charts, counters, and calculators are great tools to introduce addition, subtraction, and multiplication, but the bottom line is that fluency and knowing the correct answers to math facts is essential! If children do not memorize the math facts, they will always struggle with math.
If you are working with a very young child, or one who has special needs, first determine if your child understands what numbers are, and if your child can:
- Count to at least 18 for addition and subtraction facts. (Count to at least 81 for multiplication facts.)
- Correctly count a given number of items. (Can your child see 3 buttons or 14 dots and count that number of items correctly?)
- Identify numbers and show what those numbers mean. (5 means five / / / / / items.)
If your child demonstrates these readiness skills, and you are introducing addition and subtraction, then take the time to make sure your child can use counters or pictures to show what the concepts of addition and subtraction mean. This is very important.
For example, your child should be able to show with a drawing on paper or by using counters or other objects that 5+3 means five objects and three objects, and that the total is eight items. (3+5 is the same answer.) Use meaningful story math problems. If you have 5 pennies, and mom gives you 3 more pennies, how many pennies will you have in all?
Your child show should be able to show that 11-4 means there are eleven items and four were taken away. There were 11 cookies. Dad ate 4. There are 7 cookies left.
When ready to multiply, your child should be able to show that 4x6 means there are four groups and each group has six items in it for a total of 24? There are 4 plates. Each plate has 6 pretzels. There are 24 pretzels in all. (6x4 is the same answer, but means 6 groups of 4.)
Once the above prerequisite skills are in place, it is time to teach strategies and tricks to help your children memorize math facts! Once you get started, you and your child will see that it does not take up a lot of time, and it is easy, and even fun to learn math facts.