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Make Memorizing Math Facts Easy!

Do you watch your child struggle with math, your heart clenched in a tight knot? Is your child anxious when doing math, often biting fingernails or bouncing a leg?

Sometimes, there’s an easy fix, and it’s often in the form of math facts memorization.

All too often kids who struggle in math simply haven’t fully memorized math facts. Even if the child is allowed a calculator or other “cheat” device, it slows down the smooth process of performing a math problem with automaticity and fluidity.

Math facts memorization can be difficult.  Harp Learning Institute gives suggestions to help kids memorize math facts.

Years ago, teachers were able to spend a bit of time teaching kids math facts. I remember teaching in Arizona back in the 1990’s. We were able to spend months if necessary ensuring our little darlings knew math facts, that it was an automatic process for them.

Sadly, with recent academic pushing, many kids fail to master math facts.

Back then, we hadn’t even heard the term dyscalculia yet! (I cringe, hearing a snarky teenage voice in my head saying, “Okay, Boomer!)

Most of our students back then learned difficult math concepts with ease because they had a strong mathematical foundation. Memorization of math facts is a huge part of that foundation.

Automaticity is Important!

Math facts memorization should be an automatic, easy process.  Students at Harp Learning Institute in Lodi, California gain math success.

To perform multi-step mathematical problems, automaticity of math facts knowledge is important. This simply means that you don’t have to use conscious thought to perform the activity.

Think back to when you first learned to ride a bicycle. Most likely, you first had training wheels. Your first ride was wobbly and scary. It required a lot of thinking and balancing.

But you stuck with it and one day, your training wheels came off. Someone got you started, and off you went, still wobbly, still shaky, but you did it. With enough practice, you finally zoomed off on your own, hardly thinking of all the details involved with riding a bike!

It is important that students know math facts instantly, especially once multi-step problems come into play.  If the student has to stop and think about a math fact by looking at a chart or calculator, chances are that the student will lose his/her place. From there, too many variables come into play, depending on what math skill is being performed. 

And sadly, this often happens even when the student knows the steps to take as well as the math concept.  The student misses the problem because it is laborious to figure out what the math fact is, not the actual process of performing the equation. And with math, the answer is either right or wrong.  If a student thinks 8 X 7 is 54 instead of 56, the answer will be wrong every time.

The greatest gift you can give a student struggling in math is the solid foundation of knowing math facts.

Following are some tips and guidelines to follow when helping with math facts memorization:

1.  Don’t use traditional flashcards.  A student with a learning difference does not learn in this way.  Usually, these students need to do something to learn, so looking at meaningless numbers is not going to help.

2.  Don’t attempt to teach your child all of a group of facts at one time.  Start with 1’s or 2’s, depending on where your child’s current ability lies.  Focus on just the one set (1’s) until your child has mastered these facts.  Then go to the next set (2’s) and build on what your child already knows.

3.  Before presenting another set of facts, do a review of facts already learned.  Students with learning differences will often forget what they knew the day before, so review is important.  

4.  Use a tactile substance, such as sand or shaving cream.  Have the student write and say the math fact in the substance five times.

There is so much that you can do to help a student learn math facts!  And since math is sequential – A leads to B; B leads to C; and so forth, being strong in math facts memorization is important!

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