Math Fact Drills: Five Minutes a Day for a Change in Attitude

We made some curriculum changes for this homeschool year. One of the major changes was in the area of Math. The curricula that we chose for all of our children this year recommended the use of math drills each day.

At first I was hesitant to want to do this. In the past when I was a young student teacher, the sixth graders that I worked with were made to do math drills each day as part of their math lessons. At my young age, still learning about life, I failed to see the importance that the daily math drills played. All I saw of them was a way to force children to work at a rushed pace and try to get everything correct while working as quickly as they could.

So, when I saw that the curricula we wanted to use this year suggested math drills, I felt very unsure of whether we should use them or not. However, I did not immediately dismiss them altogether, but I did pray about it and talk it over with my husband. We decided to try using the math drills and see what happens.

We use the math drill sheets once per day as part of our “warm-up” time. We have a time at the beginning of our home school day that we do some lessons and activities to try to help the children to be able to ease into their school day. The things we do during this time of day are Bible devotions, memory verse, grammar review, and math drill. We decided to have the children do the math drill as part of warm ups and not part of their math lessons for a reason. We did not want them to feel like their math lesson was overly long and if they did the math drill at the start of their math lesson each day, they might have felt overwhelmed. Keeping the drills separate from the lesson has seemed to work well with my children.

I have learned something important from allowing my children this time for math drills. Last year, all of my children struggled with their basic facts. Each time they saw a math fact to be solved, it felt like a chore to them because they would have to use the manipulatives, or draw a picture, or even use their fingers. My oldest especially struggled with this, because math was her least-liked subject. So, any time they had to do computation in math, they had a negative attitude about it.

We have been using the math drills for 10 weeks of school this year. In those 10 weeks, I have seen all of my children, even my oldest, not only develop a positive change in attitude towards their math, but they also have more confidence in their abilities in math.

Additionally, they have learned many of their facts by heart, so that they do not have to take the time to count with fingers or manipulatives or draw a picture in order to get to their answer. Even my six year old has about one-third of her basic addition facts memorized.

I am not sure how I missed this when I was a young student teacher, but it seems I did. I am very thankful that I did give math drills a second chance this homeschool year, though. These drills, which take less than five minutes a day, have allowed my children to know more of their facts by heart, but more importantly, have more confidence about themselves as they complete their assignments in math. This confidence that they are acquiring is so vital to their success in their studies. Rather than them saying, “This is too hard. Why do I have to do this?” in regards to their math drills, they are now saying, “Watch this, Mommy. I can do this. Time me to see how fast I can go.” Although speed is not what I am trying to teach them, the confidence that they now have is helping them to know that they CAN do this and they are more willing to learn new things. This willingness to learn can and will open many doors to them, not only in their schooling, but in their futures as well.

Copyright © Alicia Tucker, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved

About the Author: Alicia Tucker is a homeschool mom of 3 children, after having worked in public schools in NJ and SC for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Sociology, as well as a Master’s degree in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Technology. Alicia is also Moms of Faith prayer warrior and columnist.

1 Comment

  1. Lynnette on May 10, 2009 at 5:47 am

    That sounds like a great idea. When my kids were a lot younger the curriculum we used had them count by a different number up to 100 each day. So some days would be 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, etc. It really helped my kids learn their multiplication tables.

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