Knowing math facts can help students solve problems quickly and efficiently. Learning math facts repetitively by rote memorization, however, can quickly steal the love of math from anyone.
So what's a homeschooler to do?
I say we find what makes math facts enjoyable and memorable, and we focus on those things. Personally, I think patterns are what make math interesting and shows the order of our Creator. So, focusing on the patterns in math facts might be hugely helpful, and will definitely be more enjoyable. Be sure to sign up for a math facts freebie at the bottom of this post!
1. Find the Patterns
When you introduce multiplication facts, break out the 100's chart (you can find them free online) and have your child start looking for patterns. If you slip the 100's chart into a protective sleeve, your child can mark it up with dry-erase markers and use it over and over again.
Pick a fact family, like 2's multiplication facts. Then, have your child highlight all of the multiples of two on their chart. They can study the highlighted chart to look for patterns. Maybe your child will notice that all of the two's facts are even numbers, or will find the columns that they made interesting. Find joy in the patterns!
2. Practice Skip Counting
Young children learn to skip count as a fun game, and it's a seemingly natural process. Tap into this by pointing out that the multiples of any number, meaning the answers to a multiplication fact in any fact family, is the same as what you would say skip counting. If you can count by two's, you can state the multiples of two. Simply slip up a finger with each number you count. When you reach twenty when counting by two's, you would have ten fingers up: 2 x 10 = 20.
While it's easy to skip count by 2's, 3's, and 5's, it gets a little more complicated with numbers like 7, 8, and 9. Ask your child to use their 100's chart to find the multiples of this number, and then make up a little song to help them remember it. Pick a new tune for each number. When I was a public school teacher, I set the 8's multiples to the Star Wars theme song!
3. Know the Rules
There are some rules that can be really helpful when learning multiplication facts. One of these rules is the even and odd rule. This rule says that when two even numbers are multiplied together, they will always make an even number. When two odd numbers are multiplied together, they will always make an odd number. An even an odd number multiplied together can be either even or odd. Knowing these things can help your child retrieve math facts more quickly.
4. Find the Tricks
Creative people have found little tricks that help with multiplication facts. One of these, my personal favorite, is the nines trick. If you stretch out your hands in front of you, palms down, you can assign each finger a number. Your left pinky will be number one, counting up to your right pinky which is number ten. If you want to multiply by 6, put your 6th finger down. Everything to the left of that finger represents the tens place, and everything to the right of that finger represents the ones place. So, there are five fingers to the left of the 6th fingers, representing 5 tens. There are four fingers to the right of the 6th finger, which means there are 4 ones. Therefore, 9 x 6 = 54.
There are lots of helpful memory tricks for memorizing these facts. You can download my free Math Facts Pattern Help below. You'll be able to download it instantly, and also be updated on the other posts in this series.