First Grader Having Trouble with Math

My child is having a really hard time with timed tests in First Grade. We practice the flash cards, but he cannot remember. Each time it is like he has never seen them before. Is this normal?
I completely understand the question, but it is a tricky one. Parents often get nervous when they notice something different about their child. Being different is never bad, and being different is normal. We are all unique. Some kids catch on to math facts right away. Some resist learning the facts. Some love to count on their fingers. Some have no idea what the teacher is talking about and they wait for someone to tell them the answers. Everyone is different.
Before starting math facts, kids should be able to count from at least 1-30 aloud. They should also be able to count objects, such as blocks or something small, and have what we call one-to-one correspondence which means they touch and count one object at a time, without counting objects twice or losing count and saying two numbers at once while touching the object, etc. This is why playing board games is so meaningful for young kids. Also, make sure kids can identify written numbers out of order 1-30. These steps usually happen in Kindergarten, over the course of the whole year.
In First Grade, kids need to start off the year demonstrating that they can still do all of the above, and then we move into addition and subtraction concepts. The kids have to understand what it means to add and subtract. Hold out a number line and show him that if you are asking 3+1, you are asking for the next number on the number line. Show him also that you are talking about counting objects. Use something like blocks and show him that if you have 3 and then add 1 more, you will have 4. Stop to check if your child seems to understand these concepts.
After this is established, we begin memorizing facts. I would say that if a child is having trouble with facts in First grade at this time of the year, you would have to go back through each of the steps I described and make sure there are no gaps. If your child seems stuck or troubled by the concepts in some way, talk to your teacher about your concerns. If your child can do all of the things described, you can have him begin memorizing math facts. If he is resisting flashcards, you could try online math games (you can find some free games at my website www.goasktheteacher.com) You can also write out math problems on paper, starting with 10 problems, then 20, then 25, then move up to 40, then 50 problems after he gets strong. Give him 5 minutes to do the 10 problems at first. Sometimes these tests are better than flashcards. On these types of math tests, you would do only addition, then only subtraction, and you would start with 1-10 before moving up to 1-20.

1 comment:

Multiplication Card Game for Kids said...

What is normal? I'd say using specific objects for additions and subtraction makes it more concrete than just using cards. You can also use hopscotch but eventually the kids do need to get into the habit of recognizing the numerals themselves and then adding and subtracting them.

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