I can remember when I was in school an important part of the math curriculum was sheets of math facts. We needed to do 100 of them in 5 minutes to show mastery. The structure of our work on math facts was simple: in first grade, you mastered addition facts, in second; subtraction; in third, multiplication, and in fourth, division.
Today in the midst of complicated curriculum and math lessons that include five distinct steps, it would seem that more and more students do not know their math facts. And I think the reason is simple: When I look in our state curriculum objectives I do not find math facts at all, let alone an expectation of mastery such as 100 facts in five minutes.
Before the calculator was ubiquitous, knowing math facts was critical for doing such chores as balancing your checkbook. But just because we have calculators doesn’t mean that math facts are unimportant. Math facts practice improves mental agility. Last year when I was in fourth grade my partner teacher complained heartily about the fact that there were students who counted on their fingers. And students who didn’t know their multiplication facts are in real trouble when it came to long multiplication, not to mention other processes.
This leads me to return to the conviction I started with in home school: The students must learn their math facts! It is not going to go away because of calculators or because their mastery was not listed in state teaching objectives. Here are some resources you can use to help practice: