Nothing may be more feared in the minds of young children and their parents than learning the basic math facts. Just hearing the times tables takes many of us back to our own childhoods, staring at a blank page and trying to remember the dreaded 9 x 8 = 72. The good news is that our own children should not have to suffer the same fear. A substantial amount of mathematics education research shows that children do not master their math facts through memorization alone. Instead, true mastery comes from being equipped with quick and effective strategies for finding the solution. By using these strategies, children will always have the mental tools needed to find the correct answer and the confidence to use them.
With a strategybased approach to the basic math facts, children use what they already know to figure out what they don’t know. Rather than racking their brains to remember the answer to a basic math fact, they can simply find a “helping” fact and use it as a jumping off point. For example, let’s say that your child knows the common fact 5 x 5 = 25. She can then add one more 5 to figure out that 6 x 5 = 30. Think of this as the “one more than” strategy. There are many such strategies that parents can teach their children in order to equip them with the tools they need to master all of their math facts. As a parent, remember that as long as your child can figure out an answer quickly in her head (in about 3 seconds or less), she has mastered the fact and can use it in meaningful ways as part of her daily life.
