When I attended Parent Night for my third grade son, I was surprised when the teacher said that she would not be emphasizing math facts during third grade. She said it was not a priority of the math program they use. Why would this not be considered important? Some math programs place a heavier emphasis on mathematical concepts and abstract thinking than on the skill and drill that has been typically emphasized in math instruction. There is a great deal of research that indicates that development of algebraic reasoning lays a stronger foundation for the in-depth math that is taught later. Common sense still indicates that the better a child masters basic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, the more adept he will be when computation becomes more complex. Adding, subtracting and multiplying multi-digit numbers will be done more successfully when a child knows basic math facts. Applying those three mastered skills to solving long division problems will minimize the frustrations of learning that very challenging concept. You can provide the opportunity for math fact mastery using flashcards or by using a free website for practice and games such as www.factmonster.com/math/flashcards.html or www.playkidsgames.com/games/mathfact/mathFact.htm. Five to ten minutes of practice several times a week will provide a great foundation for confident math computation. Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Deb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.