help w/math - FamilyEducation
help w/math
07/29/2007 at 13:56 PM

My son will be starting 3rd grade this fall and he is still struggling with basic math facts; 16-9 and 9+6 are examples.  He has to rethink the problems each time using his fingers to count.  It just isn't clicking for him yet.  I have tried working with him and only get frustrated.  I don't want him to fall behind this year.  Has anyone else had this problem and what did you do to help him?

Flashcards! Get a set of index cards and write down the math facts. Let him spend 10 minutes going over them a day and then administer a timed test on each math fact. Such as 1s- 1+1, 1+2... .  Some facts will be harder to master than others but he should be able to whip through some of them. Do the same with subtraction except teach him to check his answer by adding.  Ex 16-9= 7 check 7+9= 16. Therefore, he is still working on two skills and mastering a third skill of checking which will lead him into multiplication.  He will probably start that too. You can teach him 1+1+1 is equivalent to 1*3. Also check out math sites like and Good luck!


I am a math tutor and the biggest advice I can give you is practice, practice, practise.  People learn three different ways, through seeing the problem, through hearing the problem and through writing the problem and anwser.  The key is to find which is best for your son.   Write a bunch of math problems repeating some on the same problesm in the group.   Have him rewrite the problem and answer while saying it out lound.  Then have him read it over again when he is done.  If he is having trouble remembering his multiplication tables, have him write them ten times each, example 1*1=1, 1*2=2, 1*3=3 again saying them out lound and reading them.  This method may seem tedious, but it will help him learn those basics.  Learning adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing is so important to be sucessful later.


My second grade teacher (42 years ago) used the distributive property to teach addition facts.  Get him solid on plus ones and plus twos, doubles (like 6 + 6), and equals tens (like 3 + 7).  Flash cards and drills as much as he wants on those groups of facts.  Then use the distributive property.  6 + 7 is 6 + 6+1.  7 + 5 is 7 + 3+2.  9 + 6 is 9 + 1+5.  Mrs. Howard used a number line, but she didn't hit each number, she jumped all over.  You can't use the distributive property to teach subtraction facts.  You just have to teach the subtraction fact after they have the addition fact solid.