Students in elementary school are expected to memorize a large number of math facts that are crucial to mastering more advanced mathematical concepts in later years. For some kids, this is a very difficult task that is the source of many hours of frustration and sometimes even tears.
This is a very common memorization technique that works for a lot of students. The first step is to create a deck of cards containing the facts that need to be memorized. These cards are then used to learn, practice and review facts that have not been memorized yet. As more and more facts are committed to memory, they are removed from the original deck to a separate deck of memorized information, and are practiced less frequently. The flashcards can continue to be used for several weeks after the entire deck is completed. It may be helpful to use these cards for regular practice to ensure that they are not forgotten over time.
2. Song and dance:
When learning new things, it is always good to involve multiple senses and learning techniques. The human brain easily remembers things that are put to a tune. Some teachers find that students are able to learn the multiplication tables better when they are sung to the tune of familiar songs. Kinesthetic learners will be benefited by including simple hand and leg movements to go with the song.
3. Divide it into smaller sets that are easy to remember:
Kids do not have to memorize the entire multiplication table, or large sets of addition facts all at one time. There are many tips and tricks that they can use to remember easier facts, like the 1, 2, 5, and 10 times tables or simple addition facts. This reduces the amount of information that needs to be memorized, making it a much easier task.
4. Using mnemonics:
Mnemonics are associations that help people remember things. Mnemonics can be made by anybody to remember anything, but it takes a little effort to come up with good mnemonics that are truly memorable. Luckily, most of the important and difficult to remember math facts already have popular mnemonics used around the country. For example, the math fact ‘7 times 8 is 56’ is remembered with the poem, “5, 6, 7, 8, 56 is 7 times 8”. Other examples are “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally ” to remember the order of operations ‘Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication & Division, Addition & Subtraction’ and “Apple pie are square ” to remember the formula for area of a circle ‘A = πr(2)’.
5. Write the facts down repeatedly:
Many people find that writing down things to be memorized makes it easier to learn them. This technique is especially useful when there are multiple facts to be memorized. The key is to write them down repeatedly, saying each fact out loud as it is written. The repetition will help you commit things to your memory.
6. Provide context:
Irrespective of what learning technique you opt for, this tip is the most important and applies to all types of learners. Providing mathematical context is key in understanding and remembering important math facts and being able to use them appropriately. Younger kids often benefit from games that give them a context to practice math facts. For example, Product War is a card game where each player lays down two cards, and the player with the highest product keeps all the cards in that round. The goal is to win the entire deck. This game provides a context for practicing multiplication, and players are motivated to recall the facts they have memorized. Allowing children to use their knowledge in everyday life is equally important. Measuring ingredients and counting change are simple examples of everyday situations that make math relevant. For facts like the steps to solving a particular math problem, it helps greatly to give kids many similar practice math problems so that they remember how to use the memorized information in the right context.
Use these tips to make the daunting task of memorizing a stress-free and fun exercise for kids, parents and teachers!