Fact Fluency

March 5, 2024 Ben Lippen News

Let’s talk fact fluency. 

What does the term fact fluency mean and how does it help my child in math? Researchers agree that not only does fact fluency contribute to overall growth in mathematics, but rather it is essential for student success. 

When a child is considered to be fluent in math facts, they can demonstrate automaticity when answering the problem. To have automaticity means they can give the correct answer within 3 to 4 seconds. While we can all agree students must have a conceptual understanding of mathematical operations, we also know it is important for students to be able to retrieve basic math facts quickly to support higher-order math problems. According to Steven Sawchuk with EducationWeek, cognitive scientists agree the main reason math fact fluency matters is because it frees up their cognitive load allowing students more brainpower or working memory to focus on more complex problems. Similar to how memorizing high-frequency words in reading allows for more power in decoding more difficult words, committing math facts to long-term memory aids in solving higher math skills such as fractions and long division. 

There are many ways to help your child achieve fact fluency. In the Lower School, we understand the importance of fact fluency and are intentional in providing creative ways in which students can develop these skills. Fact fluency develops over time and builds from the earliest years in kindergarten practicing facts 0-5 to multiplication facts in third and fourth grades. It is important to consider the child’s age when determining how many facts they should try to practice at a time and be careful not to overload them. Every child is a mathematician when given the right tools! 

Here are some ways you can encourage fact fluency at home:

  • Sidewalk chalk with flashcards
  • Use dice to roll and quiz each other on the sum/difference
  • Math facts war with a deck of cards
  • Incorporate math facts into a favorite sport by having to answer correctly before shooting/hitting/throwing the ball
  • Get active and create an outdoor hopscotch game with math facts