*Disclaimer: This post does not address the left-brain v. right-brain debate. I’m not into adding another label on my children or anyone else’s. My stance, in this post, is that right brain flashcards worked in our homeschool and because of their effectiveness, I want to share with other homeschooling moms who may be at their wit’s end with math fact memorization. The method may help that mom with that child so I’m sharing to reach that mom with that child.
My Math Story
I think it’s fair to conclude that many parents are a little less than eager to teach or reinforce math concepts with their children. It’s something about math that makes us go, ugh! When I consider homeschooling parents, it’s a whole other experience of dread or uncertainty because we take on the entire responsibility for our children’s education.
One concept I want to nail in the elementary years are math facts. Simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I want my boys to spill those facts out as quickly as they give their names when asked. Here’s the truth…I want that but making it a reality was becoming so HARD! Neither of my sons struggle in math but sealing facts in young brains is no easy feat. I’d tried everything under the sun, but facts were still lacking. Yes, they knew some but not all. Then there were those few facts my oldest kept miscalculating. The miscalculations concerned me more, because then, he was actually memorizing the incorrect answer to said fact. Seriously, if my son told me. “ 3 + 4 is 6, no mom, I meant 7” one more time I could just scream.
Math Facts Memorization
On the hunt for the best thing money could buy for facts memorization I fell upon the most effective, yet cheapest, aid available. How’s that for a bit of irony for you? I find the cheapest solution looking for the most expensive. Go figure!
*For the rest of this post, I’ll be speaking from my experience with my 8 year old son.*
Right-brain flashcards. I’ll spare you the whole left-brain v. right-brain debate. All I can state with complete certainty is all children learn differently, no two learners are the same, and as a home-educating mom I will use whatever works for my child to grasp what he needs to know to be successful in life.
Now if you’re like me, you’re over flashcards and it’s the last thing you want to hear about, let alone implement. I was there. However, let me show you what one looks like and you be the judge. See if intrigue doesn’t just grab you from the sight of these flashcards.
In real life, my son drew his 7 with a cap and a face. The 2 is was drawn smaller for “tiny” and it has a face too. The 9 is black and looks like a ninja and there is more detail and smaller drawings added for decoration. On one side of the card he draws his fact vertically and on the other horizontally.
Now that I’ve wowed you with the looks, allow me to actually explain how it works. I’ll tell you upfront that if you have an artistically inclined child (either by desire or talent), a hands-on child, or a story lover you’re going to want to pay close attention. If all of these things are true of your child then you’re all over this. These are the very things that wooed me greatly.
What Are Right-Brain Flashcards?
Right-brain flashcards are still flashcards but they entail a picture for each number and an accompanying story for each math fact. The number-to-picture-to story association helps increase retention resulting in a more fluid and solid memorization.
One of the “stand outs” that tremendously helped my son was the fact that the answer is included with the fact on the cards, not missing. I know in traditional flashcards the answer is missing because the child is supposed to be remembering the answer. However, if the child has never “learned” the fact then, at best, the child is giving you their best guess. Considering the child is able to count up or back to the answer, it’s still highly possible for the child to miscalculate, thus giving the incorrect response. The issue with guesses and miscalculations is that, over time, the child begins to learn the incorrect answer sometimes.
Making Right Brain Flashcards
Back in my public school days, I’d tell my students, “It’s harder to unlearn than to learn. Take your time to learn correctly.” I cannot tell you the struggle I’ve had trying to “undo” my son’s learning of 3 + 4 = 6. Even now, it still gives him pause. Having the math fact and its answer on the flashcard helps him take a mental picture of the entire fact and memorize it correctly. The colors and stories simply make it enjoyable and gives him a little something to hold on to when the fact escapes him temporarily. (In boy language my sons admits, “The story helps jog my memory when I have a math brain fart.)
There are some companies that sell right-brain flashcards, but I have never used any of them, so I do have any to share in good faith. I’m sure you could Google them and they’d pop right up. My son made his cards and I prefer this approach. As we build through our facts (we’re at the tail end of addition and introducing the ‘easies’ of multiplication), my son added new cards each day. Take a look at how our schedule normally looks:
He makes up his own stories, draws his own number characters and colors his cards on his own. This style is also encouraged in our math curriculum and it’s blended very well together. I think the learning really gels when the child creates his or her own cards, but you’ll get no judgments from me if you decide to purchase a set yourself! I’d like my sons to own their education and this is yet another way I believe we meet that desire.
Happy Teaching Math!
Math can be challenging! Check out the great printables, tips and posts on our Pinterest board for helping your child succeed in Math!