Some kids memorize math facts with ease. Others are skilled avoiders of the task. Our son finds a million things to do, ask, comment on, or look at when asked to work on math facts. The math facts are not one of them.
Our game Mathtopia+ engages his attention until things get hard. Then his avoidance strategies kick in. For the avoider, Mathtopia+ and Mathtopia are best used when math facts mastery is in the phase where facts are getting easier for the learner and to maintain facts already mastered. His avoidance behaviors arise out of a fine motor delay and visual-motor integration challenges. By contrast our high persistence daughter happily plays levels of Mathtopia+ without being discouraged when it gets harder.
For the math facts avoider using a variety of engaging and novel presentations help keep attention engaged. Mathtopia+ and Mathmateer on the iPad engage his attention. Games such as Sleeping Queens, Zeus on the Loose, and even Snap It Up!, available for addition/subtraction and multiplication/division, provide fun and entertaining breaks from traditional methods of memorizing math facts. Combining these games with a reference math table provides the early learner with an opportunity to participate.
For the child who avoids math facts because of fine motor issues, completing math facts tables may be a surprise winner. Filling in tables has been an excellent tool for increasing handwriting speed and reducing memorization anxiety. Students can now visualize the relationships of the facts to each other, allowing him to start incorporating reasoning when presented with a problem he finds challenging, such as recognizing the relationship of near doubles to doubles.
Today’s tip from Marna over at Kirkland Mastery Math, make the table 2 to 13 rather than 0 to 10. For us we started with 0 to 10 to build handwriting fluency. As his handwriting speed improves, we’ll drop 0 and 1 and add higher numbers at the outer edges, gently but steadily increasing his handwriting speed and math mastery.