Inside: everything you need to teach your kids their math facts!
When our oldest son was in 5th grade my husband tricked me into homeschooling. “Just give it a year“.
That was ages ago, and I’m still teaching my younger kids around the kitchen table.
I remember our first real day of homeschool. I arrogantly sat across the kitchen counter from my son and ran a quick “teacher like” math fact drill.
He didn’t know his math facts!
Confession: I’m human.
After eating a big piece of humble pie I had to regroup.
This was the exact moment in time that my husband and I created our core homeschooling goals for our soon to be 5 Sons Family.
Thank goodness we still hadn’t given birth to our 3 Musketeers.
I needed a few guinea pigs to practice my “new homeschool goal setting ability” upon.
A revelation came in the form of our delayed learners.
You know, the boys who can’t read when the neighborhood kids can. The kids who are counting 5 x 8 on their fingers. The children who write like they graduated from Harvard Medical School.
You can teach a 13-year-old in a day almost anything that they are ready to absorb.
You should be doing back flips right now. Did you read that correctly? You can teach a 13-year old anything once they are ready to learn.
The trick is keeping learning fun and interesting, focusing on attitude and character development as you wait.
Math is a little different.
Math facts should roll off the mind like chocolate running down the side of the Hot Fudge Sunday you sneak at night after the kids are asleep. Deliciously.
Math facts need to be taught, practiced, touched, sang, written, and typed until they are automatic responses.
Every child will not spontaneously blossom into an Einstein level mathematician. PHEW. While we need our Einsteins, we also need our grocers, bakers, mechanics, and artists. Right?
But I am a firm believer that our kids should know their facts.
GREAT news: You have everything you need to help them become masters of math facts lying around your home or available at your fingertips.
So how do you teach math facts?
1.Understand your kids.
Study your children. Do they learn by seeing, hearing, or doing? I’ve linked to a great site on the different ways kids learn here.
2. Examine your Own Math Mentality
- Do you hate math?
- Do you voice your math phobia to your children?
- Does math confuse you?
- Do you say things like, “I never could do math well,”?
- Many homeschoolers do not feel qualified to teach math, that’s OK. Instead learn it together!
3. Purpose to Speak Positively about Math
- “Math is everywhere!”
- “I’m glad I know how to add because that means I know _____.”
- “I like the challenge of math!”
- Learn to say things like, “Hmmm, I do not remember how to do this right now, I guess my brain gets to exercise!”
4. Get Help if you really Do Not Understand
- When you hit a math wall and simply cannot solve it in order to explain it to your child, seek help. Tell your student you need to have someone explain it to you. Affirm that there is always someone who is willing to help if you are humble enough to ask. Our kids need to see us ask for help! Here is a great online help for you and your kids.
Practical Ideas for Teaching Math Facts (Here are some of my favorite math things:)
Flash Cards: My favorites are the triangle kind. Kids learn how 3 math facts are related.
Be creative with where and how they write their facts:
- dry erase markers on windows and mirrors
- sidewalk chalk
- writing on sandpaper
- using magnetic numbers on fridge
Use anything from blocks and pattern tiles, Cheerios, M&M’s, and play games.
- You grab 5 and I’ll give you 12 more, how many?
If I make 4 groups of 3, how many will there be all together?
Here are handfuls of snacks… divide them into 6 separate zip-lock baggies evenly.
- Note: Give kids time to explore manipulatives without giving them guidelines. I always let my kids “play” with new manipulatives a week or two before I use them in a lesson. Unless it’s food of course.
Curriculum causes so many issues. Page 27 means nothing.
If your child is not ready to move on in math, don’t. It’s like expecting a child to read a book but they only know 11 letters and sounds of the alphabet.
Remember curriculum is a tool, not the goal.
*Establish a clear math goal (or set of goals) for your student and use the curriculum to help you get there. That may mean you skip pages, even chapters of the book!
Drop it now.
What about how well my kiddo is doing compared to yours? Shouldn’t my child be a grade level? I feel like a failure because I barely can complete the
Shouldn’t my child be a grade level? I feel like a failure because I barely can complete the
I feel like a failure because I barely can complete the fourth-grade math book without an answer key!
Guilt binds us. We need to release it.
Curriculum doesn’t teach our kids.
We teach our kids and we sometimes use curriculum to teach them;).
- Count everything.
Work on facts daily.
Print a bunch of math fact drill sheets and do timed drills (if they at least tolerate them I have one child that drills devastate. for some reason a timed drill shuts his brain down.)
- Measure things with rulers, measuring tapes, straws, bananas
Go to the store and pretend (or really buy) as many things as possible with $100.
Lastly, it is important to remember that not all of our kids are destined to be mathematicians. That’s OK.
But everyone needs their facts down:).