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Episode 5: Fluency Takes Time

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

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E5-Kids Math Talk Podcast
. Fluency Takes
Download FLUENCY TAKES • 1.43MB

In episode 4, I talked about stopping timed tests because research has shown that they can increase math anxiety and do not fully help children demonstrate fluency. But what does it really mean, then, to be fluent? In Episode 5, we begin to unpack the four components that prove that fluency is more complex than just saying that a child simply “knows their facts”.

Here’s what a parent-teacher interaction without a true understanding of fluency and mastery might sound like.


Parent: How is Ben doing in math? Is he fluent?

Teacher: He’s doing well in math. He’s mastered his 2s, 3s, and 5s so far. Geometry is going to be our next focus area, but we will also continue to work on basic facts through 10.

Parent: Okay. I noticed on his homework that he didn’t know how to do some of the problems and started to get a little anxious. I told him to use his fingers to help. Is that okay?

Teacher: Yes, fingers for right now are okay. He gets stuck on the 7s a lot in class too, and isn’t able to recall those facts within 3 seconds yet. The goal is to be automatic by the end of the year. Try practicing those 7s more at home to help him become fluent.

Parent: Okay, thank you. We’ll work on that.


The parent said “okay,” at the end of the exchange- but are they really understanding? What plan of action are they leaving with for home practice? If that same parent had asked about reading fluency - how might the conversation have