Learning times tables is one of the most important maths skills kids need to master in primary school.
Lots of kids struggle to remember their times tables. Being able to quickly remember times table facts and apply them to a problem is essential if a child is to confidently approach maths. Times tables underpin so many maths processes.
1. Start with the easier times tables – we start with the twos
Getting the twos right establishes a pattern of understanding how one column of a table moves up one number at a time, and the other in multiples. So, if your child is having trouble with tables, time taken to build confidence with the 2 times table will often be the key to learning the rest.
And if they learn them easily, the pattern can be a springboard that will make tables pretty straightforward up to twelve times – and beyond.
2. Hang up a times table poster on the toilet wall
Hang up the chart in a place your child will see it regularly – the toilet is one example. That way, every time they visit this room they will be exposed to the tables.
3. Teach your kids some tricks
One of the great things about maths is that it’s full of tips and tricks – and times tables are no different. Our favourite trick involves using your fingers to figure out nine times tables.
Start by spreading all 10 fingers in front of you. To figure out 9×1, put your left pinky down. What are you left with? 9 fingers! For 9×2 put your left ring-finger down. What are you left with? 1 finger and a gap followed by 8 fingers or 18.
This trick works up to 9×9 (8 and 1 or 81). That said, when teaching children these tricks, encourage them to ask why these techniques work and the mathematical reasoning behind them.
4. Listen to some fun songs
What’s a great way to get information stuck in someone’s head? Yep, that’s right! Catchy music! We recommend checking out videos made by Youtuber, Mr.DeMaio, an American school teacher who uses clever parodies of pop songs to teach kids their times tables.
Our favourite is definitely his cover of Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s song Uptown Funk which aims to teach children their three times tables.
5. Make a multiplication wheel
One for the creative kids. Children start this activity by drawing the centre of the flower, in which they write the times table out. They then draw 12 petals around the centre, with each petal containing the numbers 1 through 12.
The last step is to draw another set of 12 petals which contain the answer to the centre number multiplied by the petals.
6. A pack of cards
Take out the aces and Kings, count Jack as 11 and Queen as 12, and you can practise the full range of tables by dealing your child two cards and asking them to multiply them.
7. Relating multiplication to addition.
Children begin laying the foundation for times table work in prep when they skip count in twos.
Before starting to learn their times tables, children should be familiar with addition principles. To master their tables, children need to learn that 2 x 3 is the same as 2 + 2 + 2.
Drawing groups of numbers helps to cement the idea that multiplication is simply repeated addition.
This also teaches kids why they are learning in the first place. It gives them a context for their learning – rather than just doing it because the teacher says so. It shows them in a concrete way that it saves time.