Memorizing Multiplication Facts

 In Blog

In this day and age, when everyone has a calculator in their phones, is it even important to memorize multiplication facts?

With a resounding YES! Let me explain why:

  1. Division
  2. Factors and Multiples
  3. Multi – digit multiplication
  4. Addition and Subtraction of Fractions
  5. Product of Fractions
  6. Mixed Numbers
  7. Improper Fractions
  8. Angles
  9. Area
  10. Nearly all other math operations above fourth grade level!

Usually students (and now their parents) will all combat this argument with one single word:

“CALCULATOR”

This is not a good solution for this math problem.  Calculators are not going to be able to assist students in “seeing” the common factor or multiple needed to solve fraction manipulation, pre-algebra, algebra, and even geometry.  Not knowing multiplication facts means a student who could easily understand the concepts of area or converting improper fractions will struggle, stumble, and guess his or her way through answers.

While calculators certainly have a place in society for figuring numbers accurately, we must be careful not to allow our students to become button punching (or screen tapping) technicians because we will keep them from actually becoming mathematicians.

Another argument I often get from students and parents is: “As long as the student gets the concept and can figure the answer out it’s good enough.”

Relying on a calculator will prevent students from being able to recognize the number combinations and patterns necessary in grasping higher level math – when I say “higher level” I mean the next unit in your kid’s curriculum.

Sadly, the lack of memorization of multiplication facts, considered a third or fourth grade math skill, will significantly hold students back from mastering and even advancing in math.

Consider – You don’t know your multiplication facts by heart, but you are being asked to:

  1. List all factors for 18
  2. Find a common factor between 27 and 81
  3. Answer what the 9th multiple of 14 is
  4. Multiply 5693 X 4
  5. Divide 2365 by 4
  6. Subtract 5/8 from 1
  7. Multiply ½ X 16.
  8. Solve 1/2X – 6 = 23
  9. Factor X² + 5X + 6
  10. Solve (3X² + 4) (X + 5)

What do you do?  How would you even begin?  Imagine the angst and frustration that your child will deal with each day as he or she when it is time for math.  I can imagine the heat rising and the sweat beads beginning to form at the thought of being given 20 odd problems for homework besides all the other subjects assigned.

Memorizing multiplication facts doesn’t always come easily for students.  There have been several games, programs, practice materials created all in effort to make memorizing these facts easier.  Often, we parents / teachers feel the real pressure of moving our students along and not getting hung up on one unit for too long.  I hope these reasons that I’ve listed have made it very clear that acquiring these facts is of utmost importance!

One resource ideal for practicing math facts is Study Island. Study Island provides practice worksheets and games to reinforce multiplication facts, as well as instructional lessons as needed. Study Island is available at Global Student Network. Click here for details.

Finally – I want to suggest that lateral math movement can be essential during this time, meaning include other math learning beyond merely multiplication facts. If a student is struggling to learn his or her facts, make sure to keep the large digit addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing going, as well as time, money, and any other math concepts your student has already mastered.  These will serve as confidence-builders and will encourage your child by using their own success and positive reinforcement to remind them that they are good at math!

Lisa Blauvelt (with her family and three dogs, two cats, a horse, pony, donkey, two red eared turtles, a fluctuating number of tadpoles and baby fish, and various other creatures collected by her adventurous boys) puts her education degrees to work at her home in the Deep South.  There she teaches not only her own children, but others who come to her home to learn. Her decade long experience in teaching children to read will soon be published as a 476 page guide for parents.

 

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