In this modern, technology lead world it is easy to overlook the importance of basic mathematics and mental arithmetic. When every mobile phone has a calculator built in, and every website automatically adds up your shopping cart, who needs to add up in their head? The fact is that mathematics is a vital life skill and as adults we know it is something we use every day in our adult lives. We know that it is essential that we teach our children how to do maths from a young age, but sometimes it is easy to overlook the simple steps we can take at home. We can all remember learning our times_tables at school _ one times one is one, two times two is four, and so on _ but there was a reason why we learnt this way, because it works. But it's not just about learning the times tables in sequence through repetition, it's important to get kids practicing with varying levels of multiplication problem. Working through problems and then checking the answers afterwards is a simple way to practice multiplying numbers.
Engagement entails much more than rote repetition of a procedure. Math worksheets tend to present very similar problem types over and over, leading to mundane practice of disassociated skills. For students who understand the material and successfully complete an assignment, another worksheet becomes meaningless. On the other hand, for the students who don't understand the material, an alternative method of instruction is what's needed. Another worksheet simply adds to the student's frustration, or worse, contributes to a belief that "I'll never understand math." A cute image or a "fill_in_the_blanks" riddle does nothing to increase engagement or learning (and let's face it, those riddles are not funny!). Instead, teachers need to increase engagement by providing students with exercises in which they discover patterns and relationships, solve problems, or think creatively about math relationships.