Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Drill, Drill, Drill

Addition to 10

Recently, I’ve talked with some people who are teaching their children reading and math, but didn’t understand the importance of speed and accuracy. One of the best ways to build speed is with flash cards. Get your flash cards out, purchase a set, or make your own. We’re going to drill!

Flash cards should probably be used around a 1st grade level, once your child understands the concept of addition. Begin with the 1’s plus another number. Sometimes, doubles up through 5’s are an easy concept for younger children. Then, begin adding in the 2’s. Counting by 2’s is one way to teach this concept. Don’t be tempted to add in new facts until the first ones are mastered and memorized. They should be quick with the correct answer without having to think about it. A card with the wrong answer, or a slow answer, gets moved to the back of the pack for another try. Add in other numbers until your child knows all addition through 10 quickly and accurately. Keep this activity positive and upbeat, not berating for wrong answers, but praising right ones.

Another method is to use timed tests. Produce your own tests using 20 problems and set the timer or your cell phone stopwatch for one minute (or 10 for 30 seconds). If your child is not able to do the 20 problems you’ve chosen that quickly, get the flash cards out again, drilling some more. Write down the time encouraging them to see if they can beat it next time. Keep the papers, letting them see their improvement over time. Timing puts a little more pressure on your child, but helps them see the importance of knowing the right answer, not guessing.

Generate your own timed tests here.
Or download a free speed test generator here.

Share your methods of teaching addition. Do you think speed is important?


HomeSchool Mommy said...

Math is definitely my subject. I've always loved it and been great at it. I was a math ed major in college, but teaching my daughter math is completely different. She seems to be pretty advanced in math, but I'm always wondering if what I'm doing will be good in the long run. I haven't used any flash cards, but I think I will start. I agree that speed is EXTREMELY important.

Anonymous said...

As an early childhood specialist I would strongly suggest you never use flashcards and give your child something more meaningful to do. Fast is not better and children are not robots to compute information at high speed. Children need to learn how to think, process and be problem solvers. Check out schema theory on how the human brain remembers and processes information than tell me if you think flashcards make any since…. Oh and my the way you can never let your child PLAY enough!

Robin Meadows said...

Thanks for your comment. My suggestions only come from having taught seven children mathematics and seeing the effects of my young granddaughter who is struggling in 3rd grade because she doesn't know her math facts. (the Robin theory ;) I still hold to the thought that there is only one way to learn them---memorizing. And memorizing usually means going over and over them again. I totally agree that we need to teach thinking, processing and problem solving, but there must be a basis for problem solving (KNOWING the math facts quickly).
I'll check into the schema theory.