It is very important for students to master their basic math facts as they progress through the grades. Below you will see the District 109 expectations for students to master their facts by the end of each of these grades. These are aligned with the new Common Core State Standards that Illinois has adopted.
· By the end of Grade 1 students should be fluent with addition and subtraction facts up to 10.
· By the end of Grade 2 students should be fluent with addition and subtraction facts up to 20.
· By the end of Grade 3 students should be fluent with addition and subtraction facts up to 20 and with multiplication and division facts up to 100.
· By the end of Grade 4 students should be fluent with addition and subtraction facts up to 20 and with multiplication and division facts up to 144.
· By the end of Grade 5 students should continue to be fluent with addition and subtraction facts up to 20 and with multiplication and division facts up to 144.
Why are Math facts important? Math facts are important because they form the building blocks for higher-level math concepts. For example, adding and subtracting larger numbers, telling time, counting money, measurement, and long multiplication and division are all concepts that are significantly easier for a child to learn once he has mastered his math facts and has developed a keen number sense.
In educational terms, we expect students to demonstrate “automaticity and speed” with the basic math facts. In other words, it is important for students to know and recite their math facts immediately and without thinking; or as the kids say “know them by heart.” The reason behind this is that as the concepts in math become more abstract and difficult, a lack of automaticity and speed will get in the way of solving more complex problems. In addition, the lack of math fact mastery accounts for many unnecessary or careless mistakes on math problems.
So what can parents do? For most people, this is a case of “practice makes perfect.” The only true way to develop a mastery of basic facts is to practice them over and over again. Back in the day, we used flash cards and timed speed tests, and there is nothing wrong with this approach today. In addition, students today are fortunate to have technology available to help them internalize their math facts.
One tool we have is the website called XtraMath. We highly recommend for students in grades 2-5 is to be working on this site between 3 and 7 days per week for homework. There are other free websites out there to provide practice with basic facts. Here are a few other sites that I found by doing a simple Google search.
Math Fact Practice (This one has a timer and gives a report)
Math Fact Shoot-out (basketball)
Tech Coach Math Facts Practice – This site is a compilation of many different sites.
The key is to make this a daily habit – not once or twice a week, but every day. Please assist us by making math fact practice a part of your children’s daily routines, and remember to practice them with your children wherever and whenever you can (i.e. in the car, at a restaurant, sitting in a waiting room, etc.).
If you have ideas that have worked with your children, please post them on this blog as a comment so others can read about them.