Once students know the procedure, they should stop counting and memorize!
When it comes to math facts like 9 plus 7 or 8 times 6 there are only two things to know. 1) A procedure to figure it out, which shows that you understand the “concept.” 2) What’s the answer?
It is important for students to understand the concept and to have a reliable procedure to figure out the answer to a math fact. But there is no need for them to be required to use the laborious counting process over and over and over again! Really, if you think about it, even though this student is doing his math “work” he is not learning anything.
Math teaching strategy: Go ahead and memorize those facts.
(It won’t hurt them a bit. They’ll like it actually.)
Once students know the procedure for figuring out a basic fact, then they should stop figuring it out and just memorize the answer. Unlike capitals and countries in the world, math facts are never going to change. Once you memorize that 9 plus 7 is 16, it’s good for a lifetime. Memorizing math facts makes doing arithmetic MUCH easier and faster. Hence our tagline
Rocket Math: Because going fast is more fun!
Memorizing facts is the lowest level of learning. It’s as easy as it gets. But memorizing ALL the facts, which are similar, is kind of a long slog. Some kids just naturally absorb the facts and memorize them.
Math teaching strategy: Find a systematic way for students to memorize.
A lot of students don’t learn the facts and keep counting them out over and over again. They just need a systematic way of learning the facts. Students need to spend as much time as necessary on each small set of facts to get them fully mastered. If the facts are introduced too fast, they start to get confused, and it all breaks down. Each student should learn at their own pace and learn each set of facts until it is automatic–answered without hesitation and without having to think about it. This can be accomplished by everyone, if practice is carefully and systematically set up. It should be done, because the rest of math is either hard or easy depending on knowing those facts. And don’t get me started about why equivalent fractions are hard!