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08/01/2013
While much has changed in the world of education over the years, times tables remain as important as ever. A sound knowledge of multiplication facts helps children build a firm foundation in many aspects of mathematics, from fractions to division to algebra. Children who don’t know their times tables, however intelligent, take much longer to complete relatively straightforward maths questions. This not only slows down their progress in one of the core subjects; it can also affect their confidence. Math tutoring can help but we always encourage parents to keep practiing at home. 

Given that many schools are now placing the onus on parents to teach their children times tables, here are four effective ways to go about it…

Chant!

Chanting is the most traditional method for teaching times tables. Children simply chant the facts - two times one is two, two times two is four etc. - over and over until they sink in and become second nature. This method works for aural learners, and can be made more fun by doing silly voices and accents or throwing a ball back and forth.

Chanting is often criticised for focusing on recitation rather than encouraging an understanding of how numbers are interlinked; it’s certainly low-tech and might bore children who are used to flashing visuals and interactive games. But many parents were taught this way and still recall their times tables with ease.

Play a board game

Many teachers feel that children absorb their times tables better when they see the facts written down. There are many times tables flash cards available, and you can test your children by asking them to choose a card at random and tell you the answer.

But to actually teach times tables, the board game Know Your Times Tables, in which children lay out single-digit number cards in answer to times tables questions, can be very effective. Also popular is Hoo Ha! This is a memory-based game that works well for children who enjoy competing. Both Know Your Times Tables and Hoo Ha! appeal to visual and kinesthetic learners, and are more fun than simply learning by rote.

Use technology

Unsurprisingly, there are countless apps and websites that can help cement times tables knowledge, although these are perhaps most effective for children who have a vague awareness of their times tables already.

Some of the best are…

Squeebles: a game in which the player has to rescue little creatures from the “Maths Monster” by correctly answering times tables questions.

Teaching Tables: a wesbite with a variety of fun times tables games.

12xtables: a site with games and printable worksheets.

Times tables grid game: a game that, as well as testing times tables recall, helps children see how the various multiplication facts form patterns on a number square.

Be smart about how you teach the times tables


Learning the times tables from 0x0 to 12x12 can be a daunting prospect for many children, so it’s best to teach them in a logical way. Start with the fives and tens, followed by the threes, sixes and nines, and then move on to the twos, fours and eights. That way, children will see more clearly how they relate to one another. Learn the seven times tables last, as these follow a unique pattern and are usually seen as the most difficult to remember. 

With more ways to learn times tables than ever before, parents needn’t despair if their children struggle initially. The key is to find a method that works, and stick with it. It can take weeks or even months for times tables recall to become automatic, and will require effort from parents and children alike. However, the benefits of securing a sound knowledge of times tables will last all the way through school and beyond.

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