Do you have a child or student who isn’t doing well in math? Perhaps this child or student has been diagnosed with dyscalculia, dyslexia, or another learning difference. All too often these kids are failing in math because they have a difficult time memorizing basic math facts.
It is important that a student knows math facts instantly, especially once multi-step problems come into play. If the student has to stop and think about what a math fact is or even looks away to a chart or calculator, chances are that the student will lose his/her place, forgetting what the steps are or putting numbers in the wrong place. 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, and with math, the answer is either right or wrong. If a student thinks 8 X 7 is 54 instead of 56, numerous problems will be incorrect.
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 your child memorize these crucial math components.
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 to practice. Have the student write and say the math fact in the substance five times.
5. Present the answer with the fact. The student needs to associate the answer with the group of numbers that it goes with. Traditional flashcards and workbooks usually don’t show the answer with the fact. The student rarely sees the answer, so in turn, does not memorize or recognize the combinations.
6. Use colored markers or pencils when practicing math facts instead of a traditional pencil. Most students who struggle with math facts are right-brain dominant, and color helps the right side of the brain stay focused while doing math.
7. Use patterning of numbers that appear in the math facts. For instance, if you are working on multiplication facts and focusing on 3’s, then have your child count by 3’s while doing another activity, such as throwing a ball back and forth or jumping on a trampoline.
8. Play the memory game or concentration to sharpen visual memory skills.