My son is in 4th grade and is a very bright student. He is in the gifted program and makes straight A's on his report card and has through out school so far. My question is how can I teach him to memorize his basic math facts? He does well in math, but when he is placed in a times situation for completing math fact sheets he freezes up. He can not recall the basic facts when questioned at any other time either. He will calculate the answer in his head, like 6 + 3, but he can't just come out with the answer quickly. How can I help him?



For years I would have answered 6+3 = 9 much slower than 7x7 = 49, because I had memorized the latter, while for the former I would start at 6 and count up three times. It seems that everybody is reluctant to memorize when it is unnecessary: This has been tested on bilingual kids who spoke fluently russian and english: They were taught some parts of the multiplication table in english and the rest in russian. Then if a kid was tought 4x6 = 24 in russian and 7x7 = 49 in english, he would answer to 7x7 faster than 4x6 if both questions were asked in english, but the other way around if both were asked in russian. The extra time was spent mentally translating the question in the original language and translating back the answer. The kids did not memorize multiplication facts in two languages. (This experiment is reported in Keith Devlin: The Math Gene.)

I don't think that it is necessary to fight this need of computing rather than memorizing, because it is in the human nature and it agrees with his understanding of addition. And at some point he will have done it enough times that it will just sink in.

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