Math fluency? Really? I know it is summer, but math opportunities are everywhere! Older kids can help calculate tips in restaurants or calculate discounts when sale shopping. Little ones can identify numbers on road signs and on menus. It doesn’t have to be a formal lesson for it to be math practice. What is more important is that parents and caregivers communicate with children about academic topics and attempt to do some practice to keep kids sharp over the summer.
Memorization? Is it needed? Yes! In my experience, children who have nearly immediate recall of their basic facts are more prepared to move onto more complex mathematics. In September, one thing teachers look for is fluency. That is the ability to produce a correct answer to a basic math fact nearly automatically. For older kids, that is basically giving an immediate answer, and for younger kids, it may mean a 3-second time limit or even doing Mad Minute drills as a warm-up in class. You can even print some of these online and time your child yourself. It is fun and easy.
No matter their age, you can get your kids practicing basic facts all over the place! There are some great online resources and games, if you have those devices and your child can access them. You don’t even need them, but if you have a deck of cards or a couple of dice, you can play all kinds of games. Whether your child is practicing addition and subtraction or multiplication and division, you can build fluency by practicing the facts at least a few times per week.
With dice or cards, roll them or flip two cards over and do whichever operation your child is practicing with the number you get. Allow a 3 or 5-second time limit for your child to answer correctly to earn a point. Once 10 points is reached, take a break to swim or go for a walk. Two kids can play and the first to 10 points wins. Even if they are two different ages, each child can perform whichever operation they need to practice and shout out the answer within the time limit. It will help keep the adult brain sharp too, trying to keep up with two operations at the same time.
Good luck and have fun! Never punish a child for wrong answers and make these sessions short, under 5 minutes for maximum success. That way, nobody gets tired of it or frustrated by lack of success. Finally, always try to end a short practice session on a positive note so that the child has a positive feeling when they remember the practice time. Happy practicing! Contact me, Joan Lowell, with your comments or questions.