Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 74.  Today we are talking about Why Children Have Difficulties with their Math Facts.

Normally I only like to share articles that you can get for free, but this article is just too good and such an iconic piece that I still wanted to share it with you.  It is free if you are a member of NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics), but if you aren’t you can purchase the article for $7 on their website.  I’ll link up the article over at buildmathminds.com/74

Okay, let’s get into the article.  

Why Children Have Difficulties Mastering the Basic Number Combinations and How to Help Them by Arthur Baroody is the article that opened my eyes to the true root of student difficulties with mastering their math facts: A Lack of Number Sense.  

The reason I fell in love with this article was because I saw myself in it.  I saw myself as the learners he talks about and I even saw myself as some of the teachers he talks about.  In the article he describes what ‘Conventional Wisdom’ says to help students who are struggling but then opposes that with the “Number Sense View.”  He does this for 3 different scenarios related to helping kids learn their facts.  Here is one example.  On page 24 he writes:

“Conventional wisdom: Mastery grows out of memorizing individual facts by rote through repeated practice and reinforcement…..

Number-sense view: Mastery that underlies computational fluency grows out of discovering the numerous patterns and relationships that interconnect the basic combinations.”

Now he goes into detail about each of these views in the article, so like always I just like to strike your curiosity and encourage you to go get the information straight from the original source.  I think it’s so important that you go to these resources I share and read through them yourself.  Because, I can bet that just like me, you might see some of yourself in there…but the parts you see yourself in are different than where I see myself.

This article goes through why helping kids learn their facts from a number-sense standpoint is so important.  If you’ve followed me for a while then you know I wholeheartedly agree, and this article was one of the pieces that convinced me, so go learn from Baroody.

If you’d like to learn more about how to develop fluency for your students, in their basic facts and all operations in elementary school, then I’d also encourage you to download the FREE Building Math Fluency Starter Kit that I created.  You can get that over at buildmathminds.com/fluencykit but I’ll also link to it, as well as Baroody’s article, over at buildmathminds.com/74

Stay safe and stay healthy.

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As you start off the school year, I want you to keep in mind what is really important as we're trying to teach mathematics to our students.