## SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

# Think like a Student to Improve Math Fluency

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This past week I got to be "a student." I took an intensive math course, outlining ways to help my first-graders streamline their math skills. It gave me the opportunity to be in the position of learning new skills and information, much like my students do each day. Wow... I had forgotten how uncomfortable and scary that can be!

The easier, or more automatic your child can recall numbers, the better their math comprehension will be. Here are two simple, yet key activities to improve your young child’s math fluency. These are great activities to do when in the car.

• Counting forwards crossing "decades." Simply put, this means starting a count midway rather than by 1. For example, ask your child to count forward, starting at "23" and have them stop at "41." Crossing "decades" means that while counting forward your child has to cross over 10, 20, 30, 40, etc. With younger children start with single digit numbers until they are comfortable. Then move on to double digit numbers.
• Counting backwards crossing "decades." Most children are champs at counting forward... but often stumble when counting backwards. However, counting backwards is a key element to math fluency. It helps a child automatically know the number that comes right before any given number.

Educators often stress the importance of reading fluency for comprehension. This is also true for math. Fine-tuning these two crucial math skills will give your child a "leg-up" on their way to math fluency.

#### Comments

#3 Jeff W 2011-01-28 03:36
I'd never heard of crossing decades before but it's a great idea. Like Lynn C. we play counting games in the car too. It keeps everybody off their phones and doing something productive. It kills time too. The car has always been very valuable when spending time with kids.
#2 Lynn C. 2011-01-20 15:48
Great tips! Counting backward seems so natural but it's suprising to find that it really is learned skill that takes some practice. Thanks for the ideas.
#1 Martha 2011-01-18 20:41
What great ideas! I have found that my 6 year old loves counting by "5"s in an educational song she learned over the summer. It's fun for her! The other day she found out we had 10 minutes to get somewhere in the car, and challenged me to pay attention while she counted to 200. I paid attention and she thoroughly enjoyed teaching me something!

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