How to Use Flashcards

How to use flashcards with children should be pretty easy, right?

Have you every been to the store and seen the new packs of flashcards and thought you needed to buy every pack?  I will answer those questions so your child can get the most out of their study time.

Have you every been to the store and seen the new packs of flashcards and thought you needed to buy every pack?  

All those choices starts to become overwhelming.  

Where do you start?  

What is the best way to use them with your children?

Are there apps I can use?

Today I will answer those questions so your child can get the most out of their study time.

First, which cards do you start with?

To answer that question, you have to know where your child is in their learning stage.  During the grammar stage of learning, typically preschool through sixth grade, children are like sponges.  

It seems like they can memorize anything! So let’s take advantage of this stage of learning and lay the groundwork for what I like to call foundational knowledge.  For younger children I would recommend starting with addition flash cards.

The first thing I would do is separate the cards into “weeks.”  


For example, start with just the 1 table and maybe add the 2’s table.  What I like to do is punch holes in the cards and bind them with a metal ring binder, it makes it easy to add cards in the future.  

For the first week, take between 5 and 20 minutes and just review those cards, over and over. You can keep the cards at the breakfast table, living room, wherever you can take a moment to review with your child.  


Once they have the hang of it, they can start to review on their own.  

The important thing to remember is to be consistent.  

Don’t start on Monday and skip Tuesday because you are busy with other things.  The way I have my children look at it is that it is such a minimal investment of 20 minutes out of their entire day with such high returns down the road.  When they start learning higher math they will thank you that their addition tables are second nature. 

After you have accomplished the 1’s and 2’s move to the 3’s and 4’s the following week. Be sure to continue to review the previous week’s numbers.  Once your child has mastered the entire addition tables 1 through 10,  meaning when they are presented a card they can give you an answer without thinking, subtraction cards will be a cinch!

Once addition is under your belt, move to multiplication.  You might like this resource Jack and I produced walking through multiplication tables 1 through 5!  

I would not recommend working on too many tables at once, especially addition and multiplication at the same time.

Let your child have some successes and start to feel confident.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the multiplication tables!  I have gone down the path of skip counting songs with my children, only to relearn the tables when they get older.  

Trust me, if they can tell you everything about Star Wars or Minecraft, they can do this! When they start back to school and can quickly move through math sheets they will see all their hard work pay off.  Another great way to enforce their flashcard learning is to copy the flashcards. 

I know my daughter loved to endlessly write when she was little, and it was great practice and fine motor skill development. 

There is a lot going on transferring information from a printed page to writing it down on paper. 

For a tactile learner, this may reinforce the auditory drill they have been practicing by flipping and reciting the cards. During the grammar stage of learning, I don’t think it is too early to introduce multiplication tables and other math facts. 

Remember, our goal is to lay the foundation of knowledge.  If we are successful, tackling the steps of a math problem will less cumbersome.  For example, when they are presented with an addition problem with 4 or more numbers.  If it is a simple addition problem, they can add quickly and start to see patterns.

As children get older there are other “flashcard” tools that they can use to help with other areas. 

I wish I had Quilt when I was in graduate school!  What a wonderful tool that easily integrates with technology whether they are on a computer or tablet. 

The fun thing about Quizlet, once the information is entered, which offers practice in typing, another skill in and of itself, the children can manipulate the data in various ways to quiz themselves, even print out traditional flashcards! 

This is a must have tool which is completely free and can graduate with your child to college!  I love a good versatile tool that can grow with my children.

The key to any study time is consistency. 

Whether your child is 5 or 12, there has to be an investment every day. Remember, unlike your college days, your 3rd grader can’t cram all night and know his multiplication facts.  

A little investment of time every day will have a great return on investment in the future.