Early Math (K-3)
Why do early math facts matter?
The fact of the matter is that facts matter, but not because automaticity is the ultimate instructional destination. Rather, fact fluency frees children’s cognitive load for more important mathematical processes that lead to the resolution of complex problems. When children’s short-term memory is consumed by the need to calculate basic single-digit computations they are simply not able to build the stamina needed to solve multi-step problems. In the process, they begin to see themselves as failures in math, an imposed label that becomes a needlessly debilitating mindset.
Why are facts so difficult for children to commit to memory? It is likely because, in isolation, the numerals that make up the number facts have no inherent significance. Without context 8 + 6 has no meaning. The question then becomes not whether we should devote instructional time to fact acquisition, but rather what should that instruction look like?
Which early math facts matter?
While many sources limit the range of basic fact acquisition from 0 + 0 to 9 + 9, StrADDegy expands the scope to include all of the facts from 0 + 0 to 10 + 10, bringing the number of facts to be recalled to 121. The rationale for inclusion of facts with ten is to reinforce the decimal nature of our numeration system. Without a true understanding of the organizational structure of a teen number as one ten and some more children’s ability to decompose and recombine numbers is significantly impeded. Additionally, the flexibility to automatically add ten to any single digit number from 1 – 9 is foundational to a child’s use of the Make Ten strategy introduced in StrADDegy. When adding 8 + 6, a child might reason that they can decompose the 6 into 4 and 2, add the 2 to the 8 to make 10 and simply add the newly formed 10 to the 4 to find the sum (14). Of course if the child cannot automatically add 10 to 4, then the effectiveness of this strategy is lost.