We've been working hard on our multiplication facts over here. We're using a program called Rocket Math. Each week we do a one minute timed test after some practice. We started with the 1s facts and now we move cumulatively at our own speed through the rest of them. To start the program we took a writing speed test. Everyone writes at different speeds, so we had to figure out how many multiplication problems we could reasonably answer (write) in a minute before we got started. We have to get that number for each fact before moving on.
Why is automaticity in math facts important?
"Automaticity with math facts is important because the whole point of learning math facts is to use them in service of higher and more complex math problems. We want students to be thinking about complex process, the problem-solving or the multi-step algorithm they are learning--not having to stop and ponder the answer to simple math facts. (Taking off their shoes and socks to count toes is a good indication that perhaps automaticity is not present!) . One characteristic of students who lack automaticity in math facts is that their math work is full of simple, easy-to-fix errors. We used to call these "careless errors." But these errors stem from not knowing math facts to automaticity." -Rocket Math
Why do multiplication facts have priority in fourth grade and up?
"Once children are in fourth grade it is critical that teachers make sure they memorize multiplication facts. Sadly, the students may only learn one operation to fluency. If so, multiplication facts have priority over addition and subtraction. Students have to immediately see the relationships between numbers in order to understand topics like equivalent fractions, reducing fractions, combining unlike fractions, as well as ratios." -Rocket Math