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Mastering Math Facts

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    Mastering Math Facts

    I have a 3M son and I have finally figured out that I should just use R&S to keep my school /life more streamlined.

    He knows/ can figure out all of the addition and subtraction facts but based on his time spent on the speed drills (about 4 minutes) I feel they are not 'mastered'.

    Should I drill flash cards in a certain order or just mix them all up?

    Originally posted by KatieK View Post
    I have a 3M son and I have finally figured out that I should just use R&S to keep my school /life more streamlined.

    He knows/ can figure out all of the addition and subtraction facts but based on his time spent on the speed drills (about 4 minutes) I feel they are not 'mastered'.

    Should I drill flash cards in a certain order or just mix them all up?
    Do you have all the components of the R&S 3? (Fact form packet, speed drills, etc). I debated putting my 3rd grader last year back in R&S2, but instead took our time with the first 40 lessons in R&S3. (It is only addition/subtraction) We did everything in the teacher book and all the extra forms. (It took 2 days sometimes to do a lesson). I did find that was enough and it is orderly, so you do not have to try to invent a system.

    You can go through all the fact flashcards and see which have hesitation, but I found mix results on that method. (Meaning I did the “test” 5 times and the “fast” pile vs “slow” pile were never the same.

    DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
    DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
    DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

    Previous Years
    DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
    DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
    DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)


      This might be a bit painful, but you might consider grabbing up R&S 2. I'm not saying you would have to do all of R&S 2, but just walk with me a second. From your statement that you should just use R&S to keep things streamlined, I'm kind of gong to make an assumption that you didn't use it for 2nd. If this is wrong, then pretty much ignore everything from this sentence forward.

      I am a big believer in memorizing of math facts. If you think of the brain as a computer, then it only has so much bandwidth. Sure, that bandwidth grows with maturity, but you only have so much at any given time. Problem solving, and taking the time to figure something out requires utilizing that bandwidth. Bandwidth is a precious resource then, because you can only do so much at one time. However, what is already saved to the hard drive (the long term memory), doesn't take up that precious bandwidth. If math facts are memorized, then they are stored on the hard drive of the brain - meaning they need no bandwidth and utilize very little energy to recall. Your bandwidth is free to move on to more complicated things. Using up this bandwidth takes a lot of time and energy so it needs to be saved for higher functions. Many kids who believe they struggle with math do not have the basic arithmetic facts saved to their long term memory (the hard drive) and these kids get exhausted with math early in life because they are working too hard - many believe they just aren't "good" at math for this reason. Using up energy to figure out a math fact is actually a waste of energy because no matter how many times you figure it out, the answer will always be the same. It's static, and no amount of brain energy will change the answer. Once the answer is understood, it doesn't need to be solved again. It needs to be stored.

      I didn't start out with MP for my oldest (also now 3M). We came from Horizons which featured a spiral approach / memorize nothing / use a number line to figure it out every time - system. I watched my kiddo figure out 8+7 nearly 100 times, but he could never ever do this from a flash card, a speed drill, or anything other than drawing a line on scratch paper and hoping around on it, figuring out the answer each and every time. Eventually, he started to do this part in his head, but it would take ages because he would try to mentally visualize the number line and hop around it in his head. The worst part is that I could ask him the same problem a few minutes later, and he would have to repeat this painful "figuring out" process. My kids are close in age, so when my 2nd son started repeating this same process, it revealed the same problem. When I switched over the R&S last year for R&S 2, it became painfully obvious that most of our math time in the other program wasn't a good use of time. Sure, it looked advanced. It even gave me this false sense of accomplishment because it looked as if the boys were doing things I didn't do in the same grades. But then, there was this nagging thought, and later realization, that the program was never going to force them to learn the math facts with the absoluteness that I had as a kid. I went so far as to contact the publisher directly, asking what I was doing wrong. They actually sympathized with me, one of them revealing the same problem with their own child. They in turn contacted the director who basically said the program had moved to adopt more modern teaching methods, but that it doesn't work for all kids - about half actually. They advised me to supplement with another program or even move to another math program altogether. You need to understand that they weren't mad at me - they basically echoed the same thing - some kids eventually pick up all of the math facts because it spirals back around to them over and over. Half don't. HALF!

      The approach with MP, and why they love R&S math products, is that it will force mastery of math facts. Kids can't help but master them using the R&S method. No, it's not glossy and pretty and colorful. No, it does not have neat graphics. It's old school. I need to be honest when I say that it was finding R&S through MP that has led me to pretty much go "all in" for MP. It was really painful when we started on lesson 1 of R&S 2, and my kids were learning 1+2 and actually having to memorize it rather than figure it out. My oldest wanted to do the number line and i wouldn't let him. I went ahead and combined my 1st and 2nd grader in the same R&S 2 program and we did 1 lesson a day and didn't follow the curriculum manual. That manual was built off the idea that the student had completed R&S1 and had some math facts firmly memorized. As my kids did not, i had to slow way down, do 1 lesson a day, and work throughout the school year and even the entire summer to get to the final lesson.

      Now that we are here, 1 year later, we are following the curriculum for 3M. We are flying through the lessons, and since we are in the early weeks we are covering sometimes 2 a day, the flash cards, and I even make them do 2 rows on graph paper at night for homework. It's phenomenal. They have this stuff down. One year ago, they had to "figure out" 1+2.

      For your kiddo, wherever he's a little shaky, or where it looks like he's still trying to figure it out, start there. On the upside, R&S 2 has 5 student workbooks. This means you may or may not have to buy all of them. Also, the entire R&S 2 set is reasonably inexpensive if you find that you do. The student books are broken up into 5 workbooks, but each workbook is around $5 or less.

      I love processes, so if I were to try to figure this out again, I would start with the following question:

      Which math facts families has he mastered? 1's, 2's, 3's....all the way to the 18's.
      Can he do both addition and subtraction for the same families?

      R&S lessons 1-40 cover, in explicit and masterful detail, the fact families up to 10 (both addition and subtraction). Lessons 41-60 cover the 11's. Lessons 60-78 cover the 12's. Lessons 79-102 cover 13's. Lessons 103-121 cover the 14's. Lessons 122 - 137 cover the 15's. Lessons 138 - 148 cover the 16's. Lessons 149 - 156 cover the 17's. Lessons 157 - 160 cover the 18's. Lessons 161-170 are review.
      Of course, much more is covered in those lessons (time, fractions, measurements, etc).

      You may not need any of that. You may be able to shore this up in as little as 6 weeks, isolating and mastering those very specific areas, and then pick up R&S 3 right where you are at. R&S 3 starts as a refresher for R&S 2 for a good 6 weeks, but it is not trying to get kids to memorize these facts from scratch. Since it is only a refresher to help kids recall what they have already committed to memory once, it might not be the best tool for you at this minute. You might be able to move through the first 6 weeks of R&S 3 quickly and not really add much to your school year if you backtrack to the mastering of fact families done in R&S 2.

      I hope this helps. Good luck Mama!


      DS (MP3) - 9
      DS (MP2) - 7/8
      DS (K) - 6
      DD (Adorable distraction) 2 1/2


        Have you gone through all the fact families? Before we began MP2, I saw gaps in my first grader's knowledge. We bought the workbooks of R&S Arithmetic 1 and slowly went back through it. When she had mastered those at an accelerated pace, we moved on to R&S Arithmetic 2. It really does require about an hour of math instruction a day to cement these facts. We did all the board work, workbook pages and flashcards. We lost a lot by not reviewing daily over the summer. Even now, in MP3, we're stopping for a week to build in some review of 9s facts that are tripping her up. It's just not worth pressing on without mastery. As homeschoolers, that is the best part!
        Mama to 2

        MPK with SC1 Phonics & Math
        SY 20/21


          I have all of R&S 2; as well as R&S 3. I think I will commit to doing more and see if I can determine where the gaps are; and if I think it is just 'all of it' then I'll backtrack to R&S 2 and do that; and if it seems to be progressing well with just the review of R&S 3 chapters 1-40 then I will stay there.

          I have to remind myself that this is the beauty of homeschooling; being able to stop and master the facts so he has the 'bandwidth' for larger and harder problems!

          Thank you for all of your insight and help!


            I started RS3 with 3 8-year-olds this year. I had them last year and they really had their facts down at the end of the year. After 16 weeks of summer, not so much! During the first day or two of school, I drilled them on all facts 2-18, addition and subtraction, and it was a disaster. (Like tears and threats of mutiny.) I thought maybe I'd made a mistake. Not so. I just needed to take time to refresh them...and not like a day or two...but several weeks.

            I separated the flash cards into all addition/subtraction 2-10 and drilled those along with some extra black line masters from RS2. These facts came back pretty quickly. Then, I started in on the triplets 11-19, introducing 1 or 2 a day...using the Blossom charts and the triplet cards (11 9, __) as well as the flashcards and blacklines. I also like the missing number backlines from RS2 and included those for practice.

            Now, 4 weeks in, they are pretty solid again and I'm about about start moving ahead in the curriculum.

            All that to say, I would see how fast those 2-10 facts come back if you just focus on those. If they come back quickly, try moving on to the triplets and see how fast those refresh if you just do that. If you find that he is overwhelmed and really needs more practice in smaller bites (just the 4s, then the 5s, then the 6s, etc.) then sure, head back to RS2. But, if he has a pretty solid foundation already, they may come back pretty quick with some focused practice.
            Last edited by ShawnaB; 09-23-2019, 09:09 PM.