Liz shares her times tables hacks to make those miserable multiplications stick.
Last week I had a parent ask me:
“What can I do to help my child with their maths?”
I replied in exactly the same way that I have ever since I started teaching several (many) moons ago:
“Help them with their times tables.”
If you are going to do one thing to support your child’s maths learning, this is it.
Times tables (or multiplication facts as they are often called) are vital for progress in maths.
But why? I hear you ask. What have times tables ever done for me? Well, I’ll tell you.
Yes! Everyone Uses Times Tables
How often have you had to work out a menu for 6 when you’ve only got a recipe for 2? What about when you’ve needed to calculate whether you’ve got enough loose change for 3 packets of football cards for your 3 fans at home? Even when you share out chocolate so that each person has the same quantity of squares? You probably do it without realising, but for all of these you are using your knowledge of multiplication facts.
So, yes, times tables are important and not just in the classroom. Learning them is a useful, lifelong skill.
And here comes the stumbling block. Learning them. Learning them can an effort. Learning them can be a chore. Learning them can cause any number of frustrations for children and parents alike.
But, look no further, here are some quick wins to help your child get those tricky tables stuck in their long term memories.
Our Best Times Tables Hacks
- If you know your 2 times table, also can work out their multiplication facts for 4 by doubling their answer for 2 e.g. 6×2=12 so 6×4=24. 24 is double twelve.
- When you’ve learnt the 4 times table, you can use exactly the same process as Hack 1 to calculate the 8s. Double the answer.
- Use the ‘hand trick’ to work out the 9 times table.
- Another way to remember your 9s is by working out what 10 multiplied by the number would be and then subtract the number e.g. 4×10=40 40-4=36 so, 4×9=36.
- Look for patterns. Ask your child to notice what the pattern is for the ten times table (always ends in a 0, the first digit(s) go up in ones), the 5 times table (always ends in a 5 or a 0) and the 11s (up to 9×11 just double the digit e.g. 5×11=55).
- If you know your 3 times table, you also know your 6 times table – you just double the answer, just like in Hacks 1 and 2.
- Get a multiplication square and highlight the ones with which they are confident. This will narrow down the numbers and make the task seem more manageable.
The Tough Times Tables
- For the stubborn few that just won’t stick, come up with something to make it memorable. For me it was 7×8 and every day, when we were washing up after dinner, my parents would repeatedly ask me 7×8. Annoying, I know, but it worked: every time I want to work out 7×8, I am transported back to my childhood kitchen, and I instantly recall the answer.
- To work out your multiplication facts for 12, think 10x and 2x then add the two answers together e.g. For 6×12 6×10=60 6×2=12 so, 60+12=72.
- Learn small amounts in small chunks of time. When you’ve worked out with which times tables your child is still not confident, just practice two a day. At the end of the week, revisit the facts that they practiced over the last few days. Each week, build on their learning and keep revisiting previous ones.
When it comes to it, learning times tables are just a rite of passage and something that every child needs to go through to improve their confidence with life skills and more complex maths. However, practicing doesn’t have to be a battle and can actually be, if not up there with the latest online game, something that your child will look back in the years to come and thank you for your effort and support making a potential chore something more enjoyable.
Do you have any more times tables hacks? Share them with our Facebook Community. We’d love to hear them.