In my last post I pointed out that teaching math has basically two components: math concepts and fact recall (or in other words: speed and accuracy when recalling math facts). Last week I discussed how I teach math concepts and listed some curriculum options that may work for you. This week I want to discuss the various resources I have used to improve my children’s speed of recall and accuracy when it comes to math facts.
I began home-schooling our oldest child and only daughter in 1990. She was in first grade. At the end of the year she took a standardized test. She scored off the charts in every area but one: math facts. It seems that a common problem for home-schoolers is that they are very good at teaching the concepts of math, but they sometimes need more work on helping their children get math facts down cold. The next year I spent time making sure my daughter knew her math facts and it showed when she took her standardized tests the next year.
I have been home-schooling now for over 20 years and have used a variety of drills to help my children get their math facts down so that they don’t have to stop and think – in other words, they need to have automatic recall. One thing I DON’T use is flash cards. Frankly, I find them to be boring. And if I think they’re boring I can imagine what my kids think of them.
So here are the resources I do recommend that you look into, to make sure your children not only understand math, but can also instantly recall math facts:
- Calculadder – I place Calculadder on the top of the list because I believe it is the #1 best resource for teaching fast recall of math facts. Besides being effective, Calculadder drills take only a few minutes a day to use. I have been using Calculadder for as long as I can remember and will continue to use them with my youngest for probably at least a couple more years.
- Math-It – I used Math-It with a couple of my boys. It is sort of a game: it uses a large card that is divided into squares with numbers on them. The child holds cards with equations on them and places those cards on the correct answer. Over time, your child will be able to quickly place the equations on the correct answer. Math-It teaches addition equations, “dubblit” equations (2+2, 3+3, etc.) and multiplication. You might consider using this before using Calculadder, especially with a child who is very tactile.
- Quarter Mile Math - – Quarter-Mile Math is a computer game that covers pretty much anything your child will need to know in regards to math facts, in a fun “race-themed” game. Your child gets to choose whether to use race cars or race horses as they solve equations. One advantage of this program is that your child can save their scores (so ultimately they are racing against themselves) and you can keep track of their progress. Great resource!
- Kumon Math Workbooks – My friend CaptiousNut introduced me to Kumon. Though I have been home-schooling over two decades, I had never heard of them until he mentioned them on his blog. I started my 8-year old on the 3rd grade “Addition and Subtraction” workbook just a couple of weeks ago and I find it is helping him already. Also, because they use the concept of “levels” he thinks it is a game (along the lines of computer and video games) so he actually gets excited about it (hey, whatever works, right?!)
These are the products I have used over the years to help my children get to the point where their recall of math facts is quick and automatic. If you have had success with other math drills, I would appreciate if you would let me (and my readers) know by leaving a note in the comments.Print This Post