Why Does My Child Need To Be Fluent In Basic Math Facts?
Excellence in math doesn’t just happen. Fluency matters.
I’m Brenda Bailey. I’m retired from 30 years of teaching elementary and special education. I’m still working with students, and still studying about learning because I think it’s absolutely fascinating!
As my students know, I have insisted on basic fact fluency, even when that skill was not emphasized by our curriculum or by administrators. Recent research confirms what many of us have always known…one cannot excel in math without fluency in basic facts.
I want to share with you some reasons why fluency matters.
You might be thinking…
Why All The Fuss About Basic Facts? My Child Can Figure Them Up Just Fine.
Some teachers and parents are fine with students ‘figuring out’ the answers to basic math facts as they work–as long as the child understands the concepts involved in the calculations. True, most of the time students can come up with the correct answer.
But what an inefficient way to work! To excel in math, fluency in basic facts is a prerequisite.
The Benefits Of Basic Facts Fluency For Your Child
Basic fact fluency will make a difference in these areas:
- Fluency frees the child to concentrate on the process in problem-solving.
- Fractions and operations on fractions make sense because the child can easily recognize how the number components in fractions relate to each other.
- Whether numbers are prime or composite is easily understood, and the child can see why knowing those identities is useful.
- Calculations of large numbers is much more accurate.
Neuroscientists know that only one thinking process happens in the brain at a time. On the other hand, students are able to effortlessly recall memorized facts without interruption to the thinking process.
How Basic Fact Fluency And “Figuring It Up” Plays Out
Here is an example of a problem that a student might need to solve and how fluency in basic facts makes a difference.
You can see that automaticity or fluency in basic facts frees the brain to solve problems instead of having to stop the problem-solving process to perform simple calculations.
Even though every student should be able to verbalize those steps, what a difference fluency makes! The difference in these two problem-solving approaches, however, has nothing to do with intelligence–it has to do with instruction that has fluency as its goal. Without fluency as a foundational skill, as part of a student’s math tool kit, we can expect plodding instead of soaring.
SOMETHING FOR YOU
Just as students benefit from learning tools, teachers benefit from planning tools.
We have put together a Blueprint for Learning that you can download and keep close to your planning desk. It’s a handy reference, reminding you of basic teaching/learning principles and how different learning activities fit into the taxonomy of skills…helping you open the door and release your learner to SOAR.
Next For You:
Read these articles to learn more about helping your child master basic math facts.