Is your child having a difficult time learning multiplication facts?

At a homeschool meeting last night, a friend of mine was sharing with me how her daughter was very advanced in reading but she could not grasp her multiplication facts. I went down my usual checklist with her:

Have you tried using lots of manipulatives to show her how multiplication works here?
yes

Have you tried using games, such as multiplication bingo, multiplication war, and dice games?
yes

Have you tried using songs, such as the multiplication songs?
yes

Have you tried using computer games?
yes

Have you tried using math wrap-ups?
yes

I recommended different math curriculum.
she had tried them all

I asked her if she had taken a break from the times tables to see if it was a developmental issue and then try teaching it again a few months later to see if progress could be made?
yes but no progress

Hmmm....Now I was really stumped and I went home a little puzzled.

This morning my homeschool group went on a field trip, and I was talking to a different friend. She was mentioning that her daughter had the exact same hindrances. Huh?

But it didn't stop there. My friend went on to tell me that she (the mother) still did not know her multiplication tables, and she cannot remember them no matter what she does. (I was shocked.) She thought her daughter might have inherited that from her and now homeschooling has become very stressful for the both of them.
 
In middle school, the multiplication facts are the foundation for so many math skills. How can a child successfully progress in math without knowing any of them? My friend said she used her fingers and skip counting when she was in school but it took her a lot longer to complete tests and assignments. I can't imagine the math anxiety she must have experienced, especially on timed-tests and always being the last one to finish daily assignments.

Now, the wheels in my brain were turning full speed. Three people in 16 hours had told me about the same problem they were experiencing in math. I wondered how common this may be and why haven't I heard about this before? It made me sad to think of all the children who dislike math because they can't get the basic facts.

When I arrived home, I searched on-line to see how many others may share this huge burden. This is what I learned:

There is a learning disability in mathematics named Dyscalculia. Current research suggests that Dyscalculia may be the result of mild impairment in the brain areas involved in mathematical cognition. However this impairment may be able to be remediated, especially at a young age.

Dyscalculia affects people from across the whole IQ range. Estimates of the prevalence of Dyscalculia range between 3-6% of the population. Recent studies show that Dyscalculia is even more common than Dyslexia.

Source
This is eye-opening for me! There are MANY people who experience this daily frustration in math. I am not saying my friends and their children have this exact disability, but I was very surprised to learn about it. I began to research what can be done to help children that have Dyscalculia. Here is what I discovered:

Mnemonics can tremendously help children with Dyscaculia with learning math facts. I am already a huge fan of using mnemonics in teaching as seen here, and I even have provided reviews for a mnemonics program for learning the times tables here. I used Times Tales with the DVD with my children last year to help make the facts stick. It's really wonderful for all children.


I also found these games on-line that children can play- Number Catcher and Number Race. These games help all children learn the concrete aspects of basic facts, but they are also fantastic for children who have Dyscalculia. Click here to see why these games help.



For more information on Dyscalculia, click HERE. Do you have any other ideas on how to help children who have Dyscalculia learn their facts? I would love to hear what has worked for you. I will be sure to pass on your suggestions to my friends.
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4 comments:

Cindy said...

I would encourage them to focus less on memorization and more on strategies. If they have strategies in their back pocket, they've got a powerful toolbox.

Tamara L. Chilver said...

Can you share some specific strategies for them or provide some links for them to learn?

Cindy said...

Here's a post to start with...hope it makes them feel better. http://love2learn2day.blogspot.com/2013/04/rethinking-multiplication-fact.html As soon as Number Pieces come online, I'll use it to share some strategies. Either that or I get out the videocamera and do it the old fashioned way! ;)


Thank you for this entry, btw. Love the question. I think it's a biggie for a whole lot of people.

Tamara L. Chilver said...

THANK YOU Cindy for that incredible post. I hope everyone hops over to check out the great discussion you have going on.