If you want to help your child learn math facts, a good app can really do the job. However, you’ll have to be choosy. There are a lot of educational math apps claiming to teach math facts.  In reality, many of them are ineffective. Worse, some can even frustrate young learners to a point where they lose interest in math. So how do you find an app that helps your child learn math facts?

You want to pick an app that will not only be fun to play but one that will actually teach math facts too.  Experienced teachers and pedagogical experts look for all four of these elements in an app to decide whether it will help children learn math facts or not:

• The app promotes learning through a three-step process.
• The app only introduces a few facts at a time.
• The app is student-paced.
• The app helps students work towards memorization and fluency.

Let’s dig deeper into each one of these necessary elements.

1. The three-step process of learning math facts There are a lot of ways that a math app can be ineffective and fall short of teaching math facts to youngsters, but there is really only one formula for teaching new math facts that students will retain. If you’re on the hunt for an app that will actually help your child learn math facts and develop math fluency, make sure the app has these three essential steps and displays them in order:

(1) When the student doesn’t answer a math fact correctly and quickly, the math facts app shows the student the problem and the correct answer.

(2) It asks the student to give the correct answer to the problem from memory (not copying).

(3) After a short delay, it asks the student to answer the same problem to check if the student has retained the answer.  If not, the app starts over at step #1 again.

Without these three steps, you can’t expect the app to help your child learn math facts. The number, pace, and timing of math fact questions also determine whether students progress or get stuck.

2. The app teaches only a few facts at a time There is a limit to how many new math facts a student can commit to memory in one session. For this reason, at most, only between two and four new facts should be introduced at a time. After a student has a chance to recall these facts a few times, memorization occurs. It is ineffective to simply repeat one fact over and over because that does not involve recall. Instead, an app that helps your child learn math facts intersperses new facts with already-learned facts. This method requires a student to recall new facts from memory.

3. The app only introduces new facts after the student has mastered previously-learned facts The pace at which an app introduces new facts must be based on the individual student’s ability. If an app introduces new facts before previously-introduced facts are committed to memory, it can leave the student confused and unmotivated.  If the math facts app introduces new facts too slowly, that can lead to boredom and disinterest. An ideal app tests students to determine whether they’ve mastered previously-learned facts and then adds new material as soon as they are ready.

4. The app works toward memorization and fluency

Counting on your fingers is slow and painful. Students can quickly recall memorized facts, but facts that have not been memorized, take time to figure out.  A student must memorize math facts to develop fluency. An app that helps your child learn math facts tests his or her ability to recall by requiring him or her to answer each memorized fact at speed. This method curtails finger counting and tests to see if students have committed those math facts to memory. However, a student can only hope to attain speed (memorization), once they have been given enough time to learn each fact beforehand. Therefore, it’s critical that the app has a lot of focused practice on math facts that are in the “learning” phase and a requirement that students must answer math facts quickly to be considered “memorized.”

A math facts app that actually helps your child learn math facts Unlike many educational apps available today, the Rocket Math app was developed by an experienced teacher (with a Ph.D. in learning) dedicated to helping children learn math facts. He designed the app to specially build math fact fluency. The Rocket Math app introduces an appropriate number of math facts at a pace centered on each learner’s progress. Most importantly, Rocket Math’s app is fun. Students love the intensity of the math fact practice. Plus, the app celebrates students’ progress through many milestones, motivating students to move to the next level.