Over our last four years of homeschooling, I have used several different math curricula. Some I liked better the others, but they all had their own strengths and weaknesses.
One of the strengths of one particular curriculum we use, Singapore Math, is their method of teaching basic math facts. Instead of teaching fact families by rote, Singapore illustrates fact families using number bonds.
Now, I realize this is just my unprofessional opinion, but as a self-professed math geek, I truly believe number bonds are (likely) the best ways to teach math facts.
They're simple. They're visual. And they're extremely effective.
How Number Bonds Work
If you're not familiar with what number bonds are, allow me to illustrate.
As in the example for addition on the left, the student is taught to recognize that the number 7 is made of 3 and 4. Understanding that basic concept, the student is then able to see clearly the rest of the facts in that family, in both addition and subtraction. It works exactly the same way for multiplication and division.
If you'd like to teach your children number bonds, you can download my Number Bond Chart and Worksheet set here.
Number Bond Flashcards
Not only does teaching fact families with number bonds simplify the learning process tremendously, it also reduces the number of flashcards needed for drills.
We own two sets of three-corner flash cards to cover all four operations. When I drill, depending on which number I cover, I can use a single flashcard to drill 3 different facts in two operations.For example, when using the multiplication cards, if I cover the top number, I'm drilling multiplication; if I cover either of the bottom numbers, I'm drilling division.
Teaching Algebraic Thinking
One of the biggest benefits of teaching number bonds is that it helps children think algebraically. When they look at a basic equation in any operation, they can recognize which of the numbers is the "whole" — the number that goes at the top of the number bond — based on its position in the equation. This is truly a skill that can help children in any math course and throughout the rest of their lives.
So regardless of the math curriculum you use, you might want to consider using number bonds when your child learns about fact families. I think you'll be glad you did.