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Why Learning Math Facts May Not Be Enough

by : Tiffany Tunnell
posted on : 9/15/2013

Students learning math facts the right way is the key to success

There’s no denying that basic math skills are sorely lacking throughout the United States, especially at the elementary school level. With pressure building from all sides for our children to become better at math, many parents are running out to their local store, purchasing flashcards, and spending many frustrating hours practicing math facts with their children, only to find out they still aren’t getting doing well in math.

While many parents and teachers believe learning math starts with learning math facts, I’ve seen firsthand that learning math the right way starts with learning skip count patterns and understanding how to apply them to different problems.

For example, many children have trouble remembering 9 x 7 = 63 and 8 x 8 = 64. These facts are often missed because children fail to understand that 8’s must have even number answers, while 9’s must add up to multiples of 9 (In 63, the digits 6 + 3 = 9). Understanding these counting relationships is crucial to success at math.

Many experts agree that students who are proficient at recognizing number patterns are the exact same children who are great at math. Many come from homes of proactive parents who have nurtured their children along mathematically or have enrolled them in programs which enhance their ability to understand patterns.

It really doesn’t matter what age you start. Most children as young as age 2 want to explore and are eager to learn whatever you can teach them. So, before running out to buy flashcards, focus on teaching your children to recognize patterns in numbers, starting with the very basic counts (10s, 100s, 5s, 2s, 11s, and 50s). This will help them remember their facts better and create a stronger mathematical foundation for them.

For example, let’s look at multiplication of 4’s:

The Skip Counting Multiple of Four (4)

The first thing children need to know is all the answers are even numbers. So, if they say a fact that is an odd number (27, for instance), it can’t be a multiplication fact of 4’s. Next, if we were to re-arrange the numbers like pictured to the right, now 4’s have very visible patterns. As you can see, all the numbers end with 4, 8, 2, 6, or 0 and all are even numbers. Other patterns are visible too. Using patterns, can you figure out the 3 missing numbers?

As a parent, you may be thinking “Wow!”, I never knew learning patterns could help my children learn their multiplication facts.” As an educator with many years of teaching experience in the public school system I have to admit I, too, was blown away the first time I saw this in action at MathRise Learning Centers.

Since joining MathRise on a part-time basis initially and a full-time basis since last year, I’ve personally witnessed transformation after transformation in so many children, too many to even count (no pun intended).

I’ve seen children ages 4 to 10 not only count their 4’s quickly, but also count other tougher multiples like 6’s, 8’s, 9’s, 12’s, and even 15’s. Learning these multiples always served as a stepping stone to a higher level of confidence with numbers, greater self-esteem, and better foundational skills.

MathRise Learning Centers in Litchfield Park and Glendale, Arizona were founded on the idea that “pattern-based curriculum helps students learn facts easily, retain information better, and build confidence like no other program can.” To find out more about MathRise, its unique curriculum, and the programs offered, please visit

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