Do you remember the day your child ran off the bus from school saying, “Mommy, Mrs. Thomas said we will have a math fact test once a week.” When my eldest daughter started 1st grade, this is exactly what happened around the second week of school for us. Maybe this hasn’t happened to you, or maybe it just hasn’t happened yet. Regardless, math facts will be used and are imperative for the rest of your child’s life. We need math facts to count money, right~~~~~????
In kindergarten your child is working on counting, number recognition, writing numbers and learning addition and subtraction. I call this the “starter year.” Most school systems focus on kids learning their numbers 1-100 (counting, recognition and writing them). Toward the middle of the year, they begin working on addition and subtraction. This is when all the fun begins. Some parents treat it as a death sentence, but with just a bit of patience and fun, you will survive.
What Can I Do To Help My Child Learn Math Facts
Before we can master math facts, we must first ensure our child knows how to solve the problem. Ask yourself, “Do they understand strategies to help them solve 5+3=8.” Mastering facts pretty much boil down to memorization, but students must also know what it means to add numbers and how to add them. So, let’s look at this photo for an example:
As you can see we counted out five beans and three beans, placed them on the table separately. Then we counted them together to get the sum of 8. If your child is just starting addition, I recommend beginning with zeros and ones. Keep it simple! This is not a race; this is the time to set the foundation and confidence. Give them the tools to apply as they begin their adventure in math.
What Are Some Good Math Manipulatives
- Beans – They are cheap and you probably already have them around your home
- Marshmallows- Let me tell you, use them as rewards and your child will add them up quickly
- Counting Bears – These are cute and can be used on the floor. We like to stretch out and make it relaxing. They also serve multiple purposes. We use them to help with sorting skills and learning colors
- Coins – Grab some pennies. Just make sure they wash their hands after using them. Money is a bit yucky (all the hands touching it before you)
- Fingers – Yes, I said it. And I’m sure I will do a post later talking about stopping kids from using their fingers, but when they are first beginning to add a little assistance from their hands is ok.
How To Help My Child Master Math Facts
Now that your child knows how to calculate the sum let us work on speed. Speed is what the teacher is looking for when they speak of mastering math facts. You know it within a given time and that time ends quickly. We are now able to look at 5+3 and know immediately the answer is 8. No beans, no fingers, etc.
- Make it Fun – there’s no need to put extra stress
- Play a fun game. I like to use a deck of cards. Depending on the level of your child use the entire deck (minus the face cards unless they know they are worth 10) or pull particular numbers to practice
- Use Flash Cards or make your own using index cards. I like to have the kids write out their own problems for the index cards
- I LOVE Spaceship Math worksheets. These are free and similar to the timed fact test in class. There’s also a checkoff sheet to keep track with your child’s progress. We set a goal and as we meet each small goal we pull from the grab box (just small items as prizes). I like to say after you master 5 test, then you get a prize from the box.
Make It Fun And Watch Them Blossom
Don’t stress. Learning is fun when we don’t stress about it. Don’t worry if Sally is doing multiplication in 1st grade while your child can barely count. When kids are young, they are WILLING and WANT to learn. Take a step back and reevaluate how you can help them. Reach out to a teacher, a friend or family member if needed. Most kids learn better from someone else, and that’s ok. During my tutoring sessions with children, I cater to that child’s learning personality. We have FUN, but they walk away learning and with a smile on their face. Build their confidence and watch them blossom!
Even though I’m sharing this post toward the end of the school year, you should begin implementing some of these things anyway. Plus, it will be great for your summer practice. More strategy post will be shared in the coming weeks, be sure to come back and visit me.
Know YOU, Be You, Love YOU ~Preschool2Teen