It is becoming more and more apparent to me that the number one mathematical issue today's students face is simple arithmetic. It surprises me how few students in the middle grades know their times tables. Teachers start teaching the concepts of skip counting and grouping as early as kindergarten, yet 7th grade students constantly rely on their calculators to find 4x8 or 45/9. How can teachers, and tutors, help these students understand positive and negative integers, order of operations, calculating percentages and proportions, and evaluating exponents if the students don't know their basic facts.

Here is my advice. If your child/student is finishing the third grade and can't multiply through 9x9 and divide the relating facts BY MEMORY, they need help over the summer. Entering fourth grade without this basic skill leaves children in the dust, and unfortunately the remedial programs do little to nothing to help catch the students up. In Michigan, at least, they simply remove the students from the main class and provide "adjusted" assignments.

But what happens to these students upon entering middle school? They get left behind, receiving failing grades with "good effort" notes written in the margin. "Good Effort" gets them nowhere in high school, they end up taking repeated course after course, often costing the parents a hefty amount for retaking the credits.

So, my advice, get ahead of this issue and help your student get a grip on math before its too late!