The most effective and powerful way I’ve found to commit math facts to memory is to try to understand why they’re true in as many ways as possible. It’s a very slow process, but the fact becomes permanently lodged, and I usually learn a lot of surrounding information as well that helps me use it more effectively.
Actually, a close friend of mine describes this same experience: he couldn’t learn his times tables in elementary school and used to think he was dumb. Meanwhile, he was forced to rely on actually thinking about number relationships and properties of operations in order to do his schoolwork. (E.g. I can’t remember 9×5, but I know 8×5 is half of 8×10, which is 80, so 8×5 must be 40, and 9×5 is one more 5, so 45. This is how he got through school.) Later, he figured out that all this hard work had actually given him a leg up because he understood numbers better than other folks. He majored in math in college and is now a cancer researcher who deals with a lot of statistics.
The entire discussion (article and comments) is well worth reading:
You may also enjoy:
- Math Facts Are like Learning to Type
- Math Facts: 5 Minutes a Day
- Cute Math Facts for Visual Thinkers
- Contig Game: Master Your Math Facts
Want to help your kids learn math? Claim your free 24-page problem-solving booklet, and sign up to hear about new books, revisions, and sales or other promotions.