When Did Your Child Memorize Addition/subtraction Facts Through 20? Any Ideas?

Updated on April 29, 2011
L.L. asks from Austin, MN
11 answers

My daughter started this year in K, attending an online school (which is mostly offline until high school, and I do all the teaching at home), but got bumped up to first grade classes mid year because really, K classes were a review of everything we've done over the last several years. Things are going great, except for one area...memorizing math facts.

She just turned six. Is it too much to ask her to memorize all the addition/subtraction facts through 20? I don't know what the norm is for children, and math was always my best subject and came easily to me. She gets so frustrated with time tests because she only has them memorized up to about 7, that I don't even have her go with a time limit anymore. Do I need to just practice a ton more with her, or is it just too early? She can count them in her head to add, but it just seems to be a huge source of frustration for her.

***I should clarify...she can add and subtract fine, conceptually. She doesn't need to use counting objects...she can do it in her head. This is not an issue of whether or not she knows what it means, or what to do. She can do that. They want them to have the facts memorized for speed, because they will begin doing larger addition facts (hundreds, thousands, etc) at the begging of next year, and when you are adding and carrying numbers, you really need to have your simple facts memorized. If you give her ten minutes to do fifty problems (you know, 18 - 9, 14 - 6, etc) she does just fine...but when they give you 3 minutes to do them, and she's trying to count them in her head, she can't do it.

So, especially those of you with children in a public school...when are they having children memorize things? Also, any ideas to help her memorize the bigger facts?

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So What Happened?

To Deb R...thanks for reminding me about Kumon! I used their curriculum for her pre-K and K stuff for math, and she did well with it...I guess because we have the school's curriculum now, I didn't even think about it! Maybe I'll try that...I know they do books just for addition and subtraction.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

That is a second semester thing for first grade in my son's school. But they don't really start with the timed tests until Second. Try making a game out of it-start with dice-throw them and she has to add the 2 numbers together. Then do playing cards (not the face cards) and each throw down a card and the one who adds them correctly wins.

What I find strange about how they teach math, and this includes multiplication and division, is that they don't do it like a table at a time like we did. It is strictly learned through the timed tests. There is not the rote memorization of a table.

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answers from Seattle on

There's no actual "right" answer to your question. Setting aside individual abilities of kids... SCHOOLS all approach math differently. In my son's preschool, the kids were doing sing and double digit +-x/ by age 4. In the elementary school he would have gone to (we homeschool now, as well) they didn't even start addition and subtraction until grade 3.

My son is a numbers guy (doing algebra this year at 8) but he does NOT have math facts memorized. Instead... in his preschool, they used montessori math... which visualizes everything, so at home we've continued the trend, although we also use Singapore (starting this year) & Cluefinders. Even now, in algebra (borenson) he doesn't memorize formulas... he learns the concepts behind why to use formulas. (AKA look at the equation, okay, what's it asking and why? How would we do that?) My numbers guy uncle (astrophysics) still taps his fingers (counting them) as he's working out problems. Memorization of facts isn't something that everyone GETS. Some people are just very visual or kinesthetic in their learning/recall... while others are auditory/rote.

I NEVER thought I was a math person (science, history, art... yeah... math? Hail no!) until I started HS'ing my son. I've completely "relearned" math teaching him... and low and behold... it MAKES SENSE NOW. Go figure. Just an entirely different approach than the way I was taught.

For preschool - algebra check out : http://www.freemontessori.org/?page_id=9 be warned, each album (free) is a couple hundred pages long.

Ditto singapore (not free) is pretty phenomenal in a very different way than most American maths are taught http://www.singaporemath.com/Homeschool_s/60.htm

We also do a lot of online math games (the ClueFinders I mentioned before). My son is a very visual & kinesthetic learner and the interactive games really help him a lot without it looking like "work". It is NOT a teaching program. Definitely supplementary.

Due my getting a little burned out this year, we also started Time for Learning. My son hates their math program (so we don't use it at all), but it comes bundled with the English program we do use. At $20 a month it's a lot more affordable than many options out there (and a lot more affordable than it used to be). It actually IS a teaching program, so it's something to check out. They have a 2 week free trial, which is nice, since learning styles differ so much.

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answers from Honolulu on

She is only 6.
She is not unusual.
My Daughter is 8.
And when younger, encountered that same issue.
Per her Teachers, that is not unusual.
They are learning it.
Not having it down pat.

Timed math equations, at this age, is early.
My Daughter's school, did not do that until 2nd grade.
Kinder, is real early for timed Math Facts in a Flash.

My Daughter's 1st grade Teacher said, at this grade/age, the kids are still using their fingers and just getting, used to not doing so.

Memorizing things, does not come easy for some, or even for some Adults.

My Mom, was a GENIUS at Math. I was not. Growing up, I HATED doing any math with her. I then, resented her studying/helping me.. and then I HATED MATH. For years. I hated it. She made me feel 'stupid' in math. Not enjoying it.
She also compared me to herself saying math is so easy, why can't I just do it.
Not saying this is you... but just relaying my childhood... with a Genius Mom. It was not... fun... at... all.
And then I got a mental block, about Math.

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answers from New York on

hi, i do think its early to expect her to know that, or need her to?? but if she wants to and it frustrates her, then maybe look into kumon. i was a resource room teacher, i had a 4th grader who was absolutely brilliant in some ways, but the exact same thing frustrated him so much, it just took too long, and then his parents put him into kumon and it seemed to be just the thing for him. it teaches some method with counting, and he could just do them easily after that and it freed up his time in tests, a success :) i dont know much about it myself, except that thats how it worked for him....

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answers from Dallas on

I'm not really certain what you mean by memorizing "math facts," but I know my 5 year old has been taught how to add and subtract. Maybe the issue is trying to have her memorize something. As a teacher, I've not heard of teaching addition/subtraction this way. Memorization is not meaningful learning, so students don't have real knowledge of the concept if that makes sense. What may seem like learning is something that won't last. Just work with her on HOW to add and subtract, and then you shouldn't have to limit it to 20 or any other number. I'm not sure if that makes sense at all - it's kind of hard for me to put into words. If you're not sure how to teach how to add and subtract, just get some skittles or something and have her start with something simple. "I have 8 skittles here and 12 here. If I pull them all together I have 20." Hope that helps a little.

Also remember that you can't force her to be what you were. She may have a difficulty, and the more she's being pushed because she's not as good as you think she should be, she will feel like she is not intelligent. Praise her when she tries and especially when she starts showing comprehension.

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answers from Washington DC on

I also homeschool and use SIngapore, like Riley.

My kids were all in the public school for K,1, and 2 . In K the requirements to move on to 1st were only to count to 100 and be able to recognize the numbers. Lame. My kids all could add numbers under 10 before Kinder. By first grade they were doing all numbers and multiplying.

We do math all the time, I'm a math geek. My poor kids.

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answers from San Diego on

When we went though the public school's home school program they just taught how to subtract and add. They have gotten rid of memorizing math tables from everything that I saw that I'm sure you grew up with as I did. We stopped that program before getting heavily into multiplication and division but the little bit we did see also did not have memorization. As time goes on my oldest now has some basic math equations memorized. They focus on teaching many ways of working the math equation as not every child will understand it the same way. Drove my son mad, he knew how to do it but yet it just kept going on and on. They use objects, then number lines, then counting on etc.
Even having been forced to memorize equations in grade school I do not have them all memorized anymore. I am really good at math and can easily work equations in my head very fast.

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answers from Kansas City on

My son is 5 and finishing kinder at a private school. He is super quick with 0-12 addition and subtraction. It takes him a little longer to do 19-5 or 16-7. Just keep working with her. It's memorization!

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answers from Duluth on

My child attends public school in MN. In second grade, the "standard" to reach is 100 math facts (through 20) in 5 minutes by end of school year (generally age 8). My child understands the math concepts very well but was very frustrated with memorizing (it is not emphasized at all these days, and she expected to be able to instantly do it and know all the answers quickly); we had daily tears over math homework. After talking about it, we are now working on speed with flash cards and timing worksheets at home, starting with shorter time periods and building up to 5 minutes. Practice is the key!

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answers from New York on

Just a reminder that the new State standardized tests do not care about memorized facts. The important thing is to know when to add or subtract or multiply or divide and what numbers to use. Students in third grade and above are given complicated problems but allowed to use a calculator.

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answers from Shreveport on

No it's not to much to ask! My daughter in the first grade and six years old had timed addition and subtraction facts. 30 problems in 1 minute. Of course it's hard at first but the more they do it the easier it becomes to them. Always remember if you don't expect much from your children, that is what you'll get. It doesn't hurt to push them a little at a young age. Their brains are like sponges and soak it all up! Good luck!

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