Flashcard Teaching Strategies for Children

Woman showing girl math flashcards
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Flashcard teaching strategies are popular with teachers because of their effectiveness. Parents also appreciate the flashcard because it's an easy at-home teaching method. There are several ways to use flashcards for teaching. Taking a moment to learn about the best strategies can help you make the most of your time and effort.

Should You Use Flashcards?

It can be difficult to know how much you should teach your child at home among the things they will be learning in school. Thankfully, your intuition as a parent is likely one of your best resources. If you and your child are enjoying teaching and learning together it can strengthen your bond and sometimes give your child an edge in school.

On the other hand, if trying to help your child get ahead impedes your joy as family and puts a strain on relationships, it may be time to step back a bit. Keep in mind that what matters most at any age is not what your child already knows, but that they are ready to learn. In addition, studies suggest that the most important "teaching" at home includes things such as general health and nutrition.

How to Teach With Flash Cards

The Constant Time Delay (CTD) flashcard teaching strategy is widely used by educators. The CTD strategy can be used easily with flashcards at home to teach any subject.

You will need flash cards with a question, problem, or sight word on the front and an answer prompt on the back.

  1. Sit comfortably facing your child.
  2. Arrange the flash cards in the order you would like to present them (if you wish, you can also choose cards randomly depending on what seems to work best for you.)
  3. Hold up the first card so your child can clearly see the front. Keep the back of the flash card toward you so your child cannot see it.
  4. If necessary, read the front of the flash card to your child. For example, you may read a math problem or a question from the flash card front. Wait three full seconds. There's no need to use a timer. Count to three in your head. This will allow your child about three seconds to consider the question on the flash card and think about their answers. Remember, the key is keeping things fun. The best kind of learning occurs when your child is having too much fun to realize how much they are learning.
  5. If your child gives a correct answer, place the correctly answered flash card in a pile on your left.
  6. If your child gives an incorrect response or no response within three seconds, tell them the correct answer. Place these flash cards in a pile on your right side.
  7. After you have finished showing your child all of the flashcards, you may continue your flash card teaching session by using the stack of incorrectly answered cards. Continue in the same manner, placing correctly answered flashcards on the left and incorrectly answered flashcards on the right.
  8. Once your child has mastered the full set of flashcards, practice them periodically to ensure your child remembers them.

Motivate Your Child to Learn

After a long day of school, even the most motivated students may have difficulty paying attention during a flashcard session. These motivators can help.

  • Keep the flashcard session fun and game-like.
  • Take activity breaks from your flash card session as your child needs them.
  • Revive energy for study with a healthy snack.
  • Reward your child with their favorite physical activity.
  • Take advantage of free rewards, like hugs and cheers for a job well done.

A Word From Verywell

Flash cards are but one in which parents can supplement what their children are learning at school. There are other ways to help your child with his homework as well.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sormunen M, Tossavainen K, Turunen H. Parental perceptions of the roles of home and school in health education for elementary school children in FinlandHealth Promot Int. 2013;28(2):244-256. doi:10.1093/heapro/das004

  2. Aldemir O, Gursel O. The effectiveness of the constant time delay procedure in teaching pre-school academic skills to children with developmental disabilities in a small group teaching arrangement. Educ Sci Theory Prac. 2014;14(2):733-740. doi:10.12738/estp.2014.2.1976

Additional Reading

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.