# Multiplication Fact Fluency: Definition and Teaching Strategies

What are math facts? That’s the first question to address. Math facts include addition and subtraction. Math facts are also multiplication facts and division facts. Math fact fluency is the ability of students to accurately, quickly, and effortlessly recall the basic math facts across all four operations. Learning math facts is critical because it sets the foundation for upper-level math skills.

Math fact fluency allows students to succeed when tackling more complex multiplication problems because they have a solid understanding. That’s why educators take teaching multiplication seriously. They wonder how to teach multiplication through math games. Or how about using edtech resources for learning multiplication facts? There are lots of effective and fun ways to teach multiplication.

### Understanding multiplication fact fluency

Conceptual understanding, math fact fluency, and automaticity are critical targets in the early grades. **Multiplication fact fluency is an accurate and effortless recall of basic multiplication facts, such as 2 x 8 = 16 or 9 x 1 = 9. When students achieve automaticity with those facts, they can retrieve them from long-term memory without conscious effort or attention.** Think of automaticity as the highest level of math fact fluency for all operations, including multiplication facts.

##### Why are multiplication facts important?

Multiplication fluency is key to developing number sense as well as achieving success in higher levels of math. Understanding the relationships between numbers brings with it a practical sense of math concepts. Students can see beyond one mathematical concept and make connections to solve problems.

##### Benefits of mastering multiplication facts

Math fact fluency is foundational to learning math and significantly predicts student math performance. Young math students often struggle with math facts, which are also strong indicators of future success in math. Along with understanding fractions, they uniquely predict students’ standardized test scores and participation in college-prep math and career coursework.

It’s not just about the big picture of testing and preparing for college, though. Fact fluency enables students to solve more complex problems with multiplication efficiently because the struggle is gone. They can focus on the problem rather than getting bogged down in the multiplication facts needed to solve it.

##### Building blocks: Prior knowledge for multiplication success

What prior knowledge is needed for multiplication? Addition and subtraction facts come first. Learning fundamental skills and math facts for grade 2 set the stage for future success. Make sure to have robust discussions about numbers and provide manipulatives to help students develop number sense and understanding of flexibility with numbers. The idea is to make them comfortable with numbers as they progress through more complex skills.

Grade 3 math can seem difficult to some students. A solid foundation is critical as the numbers grow and concepts become more complex. Representation and problem-solving with multiplication and division take center stage as students begin to interpret the products of whole numbers.

How about grade 4? Did your students maintain that multiplication fact fluency from third grade? It should be a primary focus if those aren’t solid math facts for fourth graders yet.

What about multiplication facts for grades 5 and 6? Numerical expressions, patterns, and relationships increase in difficulty for fifth graders. These problems may require several steps, making multiplication fact fluency and automaticity crucial to accuracy and efficiency when solving them.

Sixth graders will write and evaluate algebraic expressions and locate and plot points on a coordinate graph using ordered pairs. Students in grade 6 are expected to multiply 2-digit by 2-digit numbers and 3-digit by 3-digit numbers and determine the greatest common factor and least common multiple. The need for multiplication fact fluency grows with each grade level.

### 7 strategies for teaching multiplication facts to students

Learning multiplication doesn’t have to be drill and practice. Discourage memorization as the only way to learn multiplication facts. Some students can do this more easily than others.

How do you teach multiplication creatively? Multiplication facts practice can include fluency games and strategies that are fun. Take a look at a few ways to build multiplication skills.

- Bring on the
**manipulatives**for hands-on learning of multiplication fact fluency practice. - Try
**skip-counting**. You can even do this while waiting in line or during transition times. - Look for the
**patterns**. Have students use different colors and make it an art project, too. - Show the
**Commutative Property**(for example, 2 x 4 or 4 x 2 will be the same 8). Let students work with partners to make a list with each group in a different color. - Combine
**multiplication facts and writing**by asking students to write stories, poems, or raps about what happens when numbers are multiplied by zero and one. Make sure to let them share with the class. - Pass out some colored paper and have students show
**arrays and fact families**to post on a bulletin board. - Let students become designers of
**multiplication facts games**. They will write the rules and create game boards. Don’t forget to build in time for them to play the games!

##### Common challenges in learning multiplication facts

Multiplication math facts can be tricky for students. Many obstacles can hinder progress with multiplication fact fluency. Some students have learning difficulties that require different instructional strategies. Others may need help to achieve math fact fluency and rely on strategies that make solving problems difficult and time-consuming.

When students start to fall behind, they know it. Some students feel a real sense of math anxiety when dealing with subjects that don’t come easy to them. Understanding what your students are feeling and providing a positive, supportive learning math environment make a big difference in overcoming challenges.

### Nurture multiplication fact fluency with Reflex

ExploreLearning Reflex helps students achieve multiplication fact fluency and automaticity through a fact family approach with individualized coaching, practice, and assessment delivered via a fun, game-based approach. Conceptual understanding is developed alongside fact fluency.

Reflex is the most effective interactive learning tool for mastering basic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Full of games that students love, Reflex helps students at every level quickly gain math fact fluency and confidence. Students must make fast decisions and answer facts to play the games as they progress, ensuring their math facts become automatic and fluent.

“Students love Reflex! They ask to do it every day. You can really tell that they learned their multiplication facts while working on equivalent fractions. Thank you for the great program!”

Reflex teacher, Greene County School District, TN

Reflex delivers measurable results for multiplication fact fluency that can significantly impact success with mathematical procedures and concepts at any grade level. Isn’t it time to try Reflex with your students?