XtraMath Builds Math Fluency for Free

by Kimberley McGee
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Of all the free online math programs available for kids, XtraMath has been one of our kids’ favorites. It has helped them to build math skills, such asspeed and accuracy and gain crucial math fact fluency. XtraMath became a way to supplement our full curriculum program that we started using after we had our kids assessed with an online free placement test

XtraMath is also the 3rd (tied) leading education tool that teachers use the most often in their classroom. On average approximately 10 million kids use XtraMath around the globe. Parents receive a progress report each week. The colorful graphs and detailed charts show where they excelled and where they need more help.

We reached out and asked Dee De La Paz, executive director of XtraMath, about how the program works, tips for parents on how to best use the program and how it can benefit kids who hate math (I have one of those!).  

What are the benefits of using XtraMath for homeschool or to supplement a child’s education?

XtraMath is an online math fact fluency program that helps students increase their math fluency and recall in order to succeed in higher-level mathematics and problem-solving. Math facts fluency is the ability to recall the basic facts in the four major operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) accurately, quickly and effortlessly. With automaticity, students free up their working memory and can devote it to learning new math concepts and problem-solving skills (Geary, 1994). Without basic math fact recall a child’s subsequent progress with problem-solving, algebra and higher-order math concepts is significantly hindered. 

How can XtraMath help parents new to at-home schooling?

For homeschool and now the new learning from home environment, many students are still needing to work on their math fact fluency skills, so they are not starting way behind when they return to school. It’s a great tool for homeschoolers that enables children to work independently and check their conceptual understanding of an operation as well as their recall. If a child does not have the necessary conceptual understanding of an operation (like multiplication), they will be challenged with developing procedural fluency. 

How can XtraMath help a child who is struggling or simply (gulp) hates math?

XtraMath helps students build math fact fluency and recall once they have gained the conceptual understanding of one or more of the four major operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). 

For children who “hate” math, XtraMath can help them gain the math fact fluency skills they need to feel more confident in their math learning and doping math problems. Children that “hate” math, are more likely to associate negativity with math that has come from struggling and being ‘behind’ all leading to math anxiety. 

Why are math skills so crucial?

Just like learning to read, math facts are like phonics, and are the foundation for learning more complicated mathematical concepts. By focusing on these basic math concepts and skills in the early years, (K-6) and mastering math facts a child is better equipped to solve more complicated problems. This leads to an increase in self-confidence, engagement and ultimately the fun part of math – the problem solving. Math fact fluency is just a brick to solve the problem’s of tomorrow.

XtraMath is a tool/resource for both teachers and parents alike to help their children grow in their math learning. Conceptual understanding and making connections to what they are learning with math including fact fluency are vital components to helping a struggling child or overcoming math anxiety. Additionally, checking our (adults) own biases in math can be just as important as well. 

How does XtraMath work? Is it Common Core standards?

XtraMath is Common Core State Standards- Mathematics aligned as math fact fluency and computation standards begin as early as Kindergarten in the CCSSM. However, beginning in first grade and throughout a child’s elementary education, children will learn the basic math facts for the four major operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

In later elementary, children have longer and more complicated computations to complete to check their understanding of various concepts. At this stage, if a child does not have their math facts committed to memory, they will spend a disproportionate amount of time figuring out the smaller calculations and risk not being able to perform more complex math problems.  

 

What are some tips for parents to use XtraMath with their children at home?

At times we know learning from home and working through online programs such as XtraMath can be difficult to navigate. We know that frustrations can arise and there are a few tips that might make it easier for parents or families when utilizing XtraMath.

  • If your child doesn’t like the timer – you can hide it in the program as well as slow it down. Learn how to slow the timer down or hide the timer.
  • Some children don’t like the teacher, he can be hidden as well, and you can skip through the intro videos. Here is how you can hide the teacher.
  • Families can set the activity and/or program to fit your child’s needs, so if a child needs to just work on one operation or two, families can adjust the program. Learn more about XtraMath programs and how to  change the assigned operations.
  • We recommend using XtraMath 3-5 days a week for 10-minutes. This should be enough time for them to get through the activities.
  • Children should have already learned the basic counting, calculating strategies, and conceptual understanding of an operation, and be able to solve the problems without time pressure, before starting to practice an operation with XtraMath.
  • If your child struggles here are some solutions to help work them through it. Additionally, families can foster problem-solving skills by prompting their child to first search for the product for themselves.
  • We are always here if you need anything else and look to provide a family guide (coming fall 2020) to help families navigate the program with ease.

Also, we will be making some incremental changes, pedagogical enhancements, and expansions to the program in the future, and will be incorporating some ideas that both teachers and families have shared with us.

How does XtraMath work? 

XtraMath can be accessed via any internet-capable device (including smartphones) through the website www.xtramath.org. Once there, families can sign-up their child or children utilizing the “sign-up” sticky note tab on the right-hand side of the page and follow the instructions. A parent will need to utilize an email address when signing their child up for XtraMath. 

If a teacher recommends XtraMath, families can “enroll” their child by clicking on the “enroll” sticky note tab and follow the instructions. The account used at home will link up to the account their child is using in school.

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