There are several reasons why learning math facts to fluency is a critical skill.
- Calculators expect users to have a ready knowledge of simple facts in order to know when errors entering data return incorrect answers.
Children who don’t have a quick grasp of the facts do not generate correct estimates or make good guesses in complex math problems. Their problem solving ability is hurt because they cannot tell if an answer “makes sense.”
- Lack of fluency with math facts limits the number of more advanced math problems students can and will do on a daily basis. Because doing math problems are so slow and difficult students resist doing their math assignments and thereby learn less.
- Students who are being distracted because their fact knowledge is not automatic find it difficult to learn complex math algorithms. Students who are automatic with their math facts find it much easier and are much more successful at higher level math.
- Once students reach fractions, they need to figure out common denominators, equivalent fractions, reduce fractions and cancel out like factors. All of these procedures depend upon instantaneous recognition of multiplication facts. Students cannot easily learn, nor easily understand fractions procedures without a ready knowledge of multiplication facts.
- Mastery of fractions, decimals, percentages and ratios is required for students to be ready for algebra. Algebra is the gatekeeper to all higher math classes and success on the SAT. Higher math is the gatekeeper to 4-year colleges and all of the more technical professions. For some students all of these opportunities are denied due to lack of mastery of multiplication math facts!