Learning Number Facts

MathKids1It is important for students to know their number facts. This hasn’t changed but what has changed is the way number facts are taught and learned. The traditional methods of learning number facts through “skill and drill” and “rote memorization” do not help students develop the level of understanding of numbers and operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) they need today. It is more effective for students to learn and practice their number facts through classroom activities that are meaningful and connected to real world situations. In doing so, students learn to manipulate numbers and solve problems in many ways. While learning their facts students are encouraged to look for patterns and use what they know in many different situations. For example, if a student forgets the product of 6 Ă— 7, students who truly understand the process of multiplication will have several strategies to get to the correct answer. They might think about 3 groups of 14 (7x 2) + (7 x 2) + (7 x 2) or use what they know about 6×5 and add 2 more groups of 7.

Initially, students develop and use strategies to develop quick recall of the facts. Through meaningful practice over time students will achieve automaticity; that is, they will have instant recall without using strategies. Both the strategies and the facts themselves are the foundations for the development of other mental mathematics strategies.

To help your child practice number facts at home, we recommend you ask them how they arrived at their answer, rather than only focusing on how quickly they were able to recall the fact. You might also ask them if there is another way they could solve the problem. This type of interaction with your child helps them to think about numbers in different ways and practice different strategies for knowing their number facts.