If your student is still using his fingers to add and subtract, it's time to introduce fact families. Fact families allow your child to begin adding and subtracting in his head, which saves time and will help him master basic math skills and eventually move on to higher order math.
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Easy 0s and 1s
When it comes to learning zeros and ones, the rules are simple and most students can learn to add and subtract these numbers easily in their heads by adding one and taking one away. For zero, the answer will be the same whether you are adding or subtracting zero from any number. Ones are a little trickier. Explain to your child that you can add one to another number in any order and get the same answer. For example, 3 + 1 and 1 + 3 both equal 4. When subtracting, the answer will be one less than the number. Example 3 - 1 = 2.
Skip Counting 2s, 5s, and 10s
Teach your child to skip count to help him figure out simple problems like 2 + 2 and 5 + 5. Not only will he have an easier time adding and subtracting problems with these numbers, but learning to skip count is helpful preparation for one day moving on to multiplication facts. Don't worry that your student will miss out on learning the facts for problems like 8 + 5, because these will be mastered when he digs into fact families for the 8s.
3s, 4s, 6s, 7s and 8s
Learning fact families for 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s and even 8s are very similar in nature. Give your child a set of three numbers, such as 3, 4 and 12. Those numbers create the following members in a family of facts, all using one of those three numbers:
- 3 + 4 = 12
- 4 + 3 = 12
- 12 - 4 = 3
- 12 -3 = 4
Finishing Up with the 9s
When it comes to fact families, the 9s are special. Teach your child that for addition problems 9 is one less than 10. This means it is very easy to memorize facts. Teach your child to pull one away from the number being added to 9, and to take 9 to the number 10. For example:
- 9 + 7 could quickly be thought of as...
- 10 + 6
- The answer is 16
This concept, plus fact families will make adding and subtracting 9s easy for your child.
Fact Families Make Simple Math Faster
Learning about fact families can increase the speed at which your child is able to complete addition and subtraction problems. Increased speed can help in situations such as standardized tests (if your area requires these) and other math activities. Learning how addition and subtraction fact families work also sets the stage for learning about multiplication fact families later on.