Recently, my daughter brought to my attention that she needed help with her multiplication tables. No problem, so I thought. I’m forty-something years old, surely I can recall this stuff.
I decided we would do it the old-fashioned way and made cue cards for each different equation. The cue cards sat on our kitchen windowsill and were often used at mealtimes until she nailed a particular table.
She also wanted to review these mathematical facts in the car as we drove to school. This became challenging as I could not use the cue cards while I was driving. I too had to memorize the tables again. I suddenly realized that I might not pass third grade math. I had become so reliant on the calculator in my phone that multiplication table knowledge had vanished into thin air along with my high school knowledge of French.
It was a wake-up call for me, the realization that learning doesn’t always stick, especially if we don’t use it.
“Sweetie, don’t worry about it. If you forget one, but you know the one before or after it, just add or subtract the number,” I said trying to be as clear as possible when my daughter got frustrated after missing an equation.
“No, Mom, I have to memorize them,” she said exasperated.
“I know. But you should also understand how multiplication works. That way you can always figure it out in your head,” I replied.
And I should know. I’m learning how to do it again thanks to my third grader…
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.