What are number facts?

What are number facts?
Children are expected to memorise a number of different number facts in primary school, including number bonds to 20 and the multiplication and division facts for the twelve times tables. We explain what number facts your child will be taught when and suggest easy ways to support their learning at home.

What are number facts?

Number facts are basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division calculations that children should learn to recall instantly with no working out (in other words, they need to learn them off by heart).

Number facts are sometimes referred to as number bonds (addition and subtraction) and times tables with related division facts (multiplication and division).

When children are taught number facts?

Year 1
In Y1 children learn and use the addition and subtraction facts to 20 (this includes number bonds to 20). This means they will become familiar with and practise all the different combinations of adding and subtracting numbers to a total of 20 (for example, 2 + 16 = 18, 17 – 5 = 12, 5 + 3 = 8, 6 + 7 = 13, 20 – 9 = 11, etc)..

Year 2
In Y2 children consolidate their knowledge of number facts to 20 and develop fluency when recalling the facts (learn them off by heart).

Children also learn to use the number bonds to 20 to derive related facts up to 100; for example, if they know 2 + 3 = 5 then they understand that 20 + 30 = 50.

Multiplication and related division facts for the 2, 5 and 10 times tables are also learned in Year 2. For example, for the 2x table:
1 x 2 = 2 and 2 ÷ 2 = 1
2 x 2 = 4 and 4 ÷ 2 = 2
3 x 2 = 6 and 6 ÷ 2 = 3
4 x 2 = 8 and 8 ÷ 2 = 4
5 x 2 = 10 and 10 ÷ 2 = 5
6 x 2 = 12 and 12 ÷ 2 = 6
7 x 2 = 14 and 14 ÷ 2 = 7
8 x 2 = 16 and 16 ÷ 2 = 8
9 x 2 = 18 and 18 ÷ 2 = 20
10 x 2 = 20 and 20 ÷ 2 = 10
11 x 2 = 22  22 ÷ 2 = 11
12 x 2 = 24  24 ÷ 2 = 12

Year 3
In Y3 children learn multiplication and related division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 times tables. Children will also be taught the connection between the 2, 4 and 8 times tables through doubling and halving (so if 2 x 3 = 6 then 4 x 3 = 12 ).

Year 4
In Year 4 children learn multiplication and related division facts for the 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12 times tables.

Year 5 and Year 6
In the last two years of KS2 children practise and improve their mental recall of multiplication and division facts up to 12 x 12. They will also use and apply these facts in more complex calculations.

How are children are taught number facts at school?

Teachers begin with concrete representations of numbers (actual objects or pictures of objects) when introducing the concept of addition and subtraction.

Then move onto pictorial representation (using dots):

And finally onto abstract symbols (digits):

Once they are familiar with the concept of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division children begin to memorise the number facts and practice quick recall.

Methods such as flash cards, fact triangles, fact families, games, ICT games are used to improve quick recall in a fun way. There may also be displays in the classroom to help children memorise the number facts. Number facts need to be practised regularly so some schools may also do weekly timetables tests/challenges.

How to practise number facts at home

  • Encourage children to say the whole calculation and answer aloud, not just the answer (for example 8 x 7 = 56 if you are practising times tables verbally)
  • Practise regularly but for short periods at a time
  • Make it fun by playing games!
  • Help your child design their own number facts poster and display it in their room or on the fridge
  • Take advantage of real-life contexts such as shopping, laying the table, planting seeds in rows, organising and sharing out toys or snacks, etc. to help you introduce number facts into everyday life