Stay with your child for math!

Teaching Tip:

Math is a subject that needs to be taught.

For this tip, I’ll share something I’ve discovered the hard way. After 30+ years of teaching, I have come to realize math is one subject that needs to be taught. It is not meant to be a self-teaching subject that can be assigned to a student to do on his/her own.

What about using online lessons or video teachers for math?

Even with the aid of an online lesson or video teacher, ultimately with math there will be questions. There will be times when your child hits a stumbling block and needs help to go on. If you have no knowledge about what your child is working on, then the only way to help is to consult the answer key. At that point your child will quickly discover you can offer little help. This is because your child is fully able to check the answer key himself (and doesn’t really need you for that purpose). What he/she does need is the aid of a teacher who can explain the problem in a different way.

What can happen if you expect math to be a self-teaching subject?

With my oldest son, I was hit and miss in helping him with math. I changed math programs so many times looking for the ultimate self-teaching program! This only led to frustration for both my son and for me. In the end, he did manage to get through the needed math programs without me. However, it would have been far better and much less frustrating had I stayed the course with a math program. It also would have been better if I stayed with him to be able to help him along the way.

What are the benefits of staying with your child for math?

With our next three sons, who have varying math abilities, I have stayed with them for math. I quickly go over the textbook first. Then, I watch over them as they get underway on their assignments to be sure they’re started right. Last, I stay close while they work and help them through any frustrations. I have re-learned math along with my boys. What a different experience my next three boys have had with math, simply because of how I approached it!

Make staying with your child for math a priority!

I encourage you to make staying with your child for math a priority. This doesn’t mean you need to devote an hour to math per child per day. Instead, it means you should be there to teach 5-15 min. at the beginning of the lesson. Next, guide your student for another 5-10 minutes. Then, check-in closely while your child works. If you can’t find the time to be present for math, consider assigning another mathematical child in your family to help. Partner with your child to be successful in math. It will reap untold benefits whether your child is mathy or not!


Singapore math is different from typical math programs.

Teaching Tip:

Singapore math is different from typical math programs.

One thing I am reminded of as school is underway is the difference between Singapore math and typical math programs. Singapore math is one of those programs that takes a while to wrap your head around philosophy-wise. It is a program that is designed with a terrific ebb and flow of concepts and skills. Yet, often as parents, we get in the way of this ebb and flow by stepping in and adding more and more practice.

Your students are not expected to master every new math concept.

It helps to keep in mind that your students are not intended to master every new math concept you show them. Some concepts are only introduced. Others are practiced more extensively. Still other concepts are meant to be mastered. If, as the parent, we treat every concept like it must be mastered right away, we can truly frustrate our children.

Resist the urge to add more practice.

So, when you think your child may not have fully grasped a concept, resist the urge to add more practice. Don’t jump in and search for more worksheets on the internet or in another source to add to your math lesson. Instead, just partner with your child helping him/her through the lesson to be successful. Then, the next day, move on to the next lesson.

When tough concepts come around again, your child will be older and better equipped.

Be confident that those tough math concepts will come around again the next year in the next level. By then, your child will be a year older and better equipped to deal with those harder concepts. Age helps so much in dealing with abstract concepts!

Each day continue steadily moving forward in math.

Continue steadily moving forward each day through your math lessons. Keep in mind that concepts move from being represented concretely to pictorially to abstractly over time. As students view concepts with increasing levels of abstraction, they move toward math mastery. If you keep this philosophy in mind, you will experience less frustration and more enjoyment in the design of the program.


Summer is a great time for math fact practice!

Teaching Tip 

Summer is a great time to work on math fact practice.

Summer is a good time to work on firming up needed skills. Math fact practice is an easy skill to work into your summer. It is important for kiddos to memorize their addition facts and their multiplication facts. Once children know their addition and multiplication facts, they often automatically know their subtraction and division facts.

When should children learn their math facts?

Public schools often have little ones learning their addition facts as early as first grade. They typically have students learning their multiplication facts as early as third grade. I tend to be on the later side for working on memorization of facts. I usually wait until the end of second grade or third grade to make sure kiddos have their addition facts down. I’ll wait until the end of fourth or even fifth grade for drill of multiplication facts.

Why wait to drill the math facts?

I tend to wait for several reasons. First, I want to give the child every chance to learn these facts on his/her own through the math curriculum. Second, I want the child to see the need for learning the facts to solve math problems more quickly. Third, I want the child to understand the “why” behind the “how,” or the meaning of what he/she is memorizing. Whenever your child learns his/her facts, summer is a great time to work on this important area.

How can you make easy flashcards for drilling your child?

One easy way to do this is to cut index cards in half. Use the cut cards to make a set of addition cards for the 0’s. Make separate cards for 0+1, 0+2, 0+3, 0+4, 0+5, 0+6… all the way up to 0+12. Use a black marker on a white card to write the facts. Then, use a pencil to very lightly write the answer on the back of the card. To conceal the answer better, you can put a small piece of masking tape on the back of the card. Then, write the answer lightly in pencil on top of the tape. After your child has learned the 0’s set, make a set of cards like this for the 1’s. Continue making sets of cards for the 2’s, 3’s, and so on…up through the 12’s.

What simple process can you use to help your child learn the facts?

Set a time limit that your child must meet to “pass” the set of cards. 15-20 seconds is a good range, depending on the child. Time your child in passing the 0’s. Give an appropriate small reward once the child passes the 0’s. Then, move on to the 1’s. This same process works well for memorizing multiplication facts. Have the child practice only one set of cards each day and come to you when ready to test.

How can you motivate your child to learn the facts?

We paid our kiddos a quarter each time they passed a set of cards. We gave them a dollar upon completion of all 12 sets of cards. You can structure this any way that works for you.

What are the benefits of this method of fact memorization?

This method of memorization has several benefits. Memorizing a small set of cards at a time that follow a pattern is so helpful. Plus, the black writing on the white card really impresses the fact’s image in the child’s memory bank. Once the cards are made, you can save them for future kiddos! Try partnering with your child in this and see what you think!


Summer – a great time to work on math multiplication facts!

From Our House to Yours 

Summer – a great time to work on math multiplication facts!

We’ve used Singapore Math’s levels from kindergarten through 6B with Heart of Dakota’s guides with all three of our sons. Each son has varying math abilities, but all benefited from Singapore Math. With multiplication fact memorization, I think it’s important to give time to see if kiddos get it on their own. If they do, there’s no need to practice them. In general, Singapore Math students memorize their facts later, but they understand the process better. One of my sons was able to memorize his multiplication facts just by working through Singapore Math. Another one of my sons memorized his facts with just the addition of flashcard practice. However, one son needed more help with his multiplication facts.  We found summer a great time to work on this!

Skip Count Kid’s Bible Heroes Musical Multiplication Songs

The Skip Count Kid’s Bible Heroes Musical Multiplication Songs CD was inexpensive, easy, and fun. Now, these songs are even available on YouTube for free! My son really enjoyed these original songs. He even often sang or hummed them off and on throughout the day, just for fun! We began with the songs of the easier multiplication facts. The lower numbers were easier for him, and they were really just a confidence booster at the start. I made sure to have him follow along in the booklet. The booklet includes the lyrics to the songs, and you can print it by clicking here. I know the booklet looks antiquated. It doesn’t matter. The point is for children to visually be seeing the facts as they follow along in the booklet and sing. That connection helps with memorizing multiplication facts so much!

Moving on to the Harder Multiplication Facts

Once my son was confident in his easier multiplication facts, we moved on to the harder ones. On Mondays, he did the 6’s. Then on Tuesdays he did the 7’s. On Wednesdays, he did the 8’s. Then on Thursdays he did the 9’s. For Fridays, he could pick any of the songs he wanted to do just for fun. After he sang along with the songs following along in his booklet, he practiced their accompanying flashcards. So after singing the 6’s on Mondays, he did the 6’s flashcards. I did not time him, but rather focused on just encouraging him to move through them the best he could at first. Then, we focused on trying to go a little more quickly. Some kiddos are motivated by the timer with multiplication facts, and some aren’t. He wasn’t!

A Few Other Noteworthy Tips 

A few other noteworthy tips – first, it takes time! Try not to get frustrated! Over the duration of the summer, my son got better and better at his facts. Yours will too! Second, consistency is key. So, doing this at least four times a week is important for carryover. Third, black and white flashcards are best. This helps kiddos focus on the numbers themselves, rather than on cutesy pictures or colors. Just like looking at stark white on black leaves an imprint that remains when you close your eyes, so do black and white flashcards. Fourth, when a child misses a fact, turn the card over and let him/her see the fact with the answer written out on the back. This further imprints the fact on the brain. (Saying it out loud helps too!) Finally, finger counting while skip counting is fine! They will give it up naturally eventually.

In Closing

We did this routine for memorizing multiplication facts two summers in a row. The second summer we added the 11’s and 12’s. My son finally got his multiplication facts down pat! He will still occasionally hum the skip count tune or count quickly on his fingers to get to the answer. However, he gets the answers right consistently and quickly, usually in under 3 seconds. My favorite multiplication fact cards are the Trend cards. They are inexpensive, sturdy, big, black and white, and they have the answers with the facts on the backs. While you can do division cards too, we found the multiplication songs with the flashcards taught the division naturally already. Hope these tips help your kiddos with their multiplication facts too!

In Christ,


Math depends on the teacher and not the textbook

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught ; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas … which should quicken imagination.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 1, p. 233)