‘How to teach kids multiplication?’ is a very strange question for me! I cannot remember learning the multiplication table when I was at school! I do recall enjoying maths, but I have no recollection of anyone teaching me the multiplications tables. That was many decades ago and things have changed – thankfully! Most good schools have set methods for teaching the times tables and targets for each year. Learning the times tables is so important that I cannot imagine why on earth a school felt it was okay, not to teach the kids multiplication. However, now the government has stated that all children by year four should be competent with their times tables. The DFE times table test is an on-screen test will be sat by students aged 8 and 9 in Year 4.
But here is a secret… you do not have to be a maths teacher to teach your child the multiplication tables.
Additionally, you may not even be that competent at the times tables yourself. The truth is, there are so many resources and ways to learn and teach the multiplication tables, that by the time you have your children know it, you will have also mastered them! I understand that there are some concepts in maths which are difficult, but the multiplications tables is not one of them. Multiplications tables are just repeated addition (4 + 4+ 4+ 4 =16 is the same as 4 x 4 = 16) and most parents can add on!
Where do you start with teaching kids multiplication?
Once a child is familiar with counting in 2’s, 3’s and 10’s, can count backwards and forwards and is capable of adding and subtracting, then I believe they are ready to tackle the times tables. Use pasta and different objects to model what they are doing. For example, when counting in two’s lay out pasta in sets of two’s for them to count.
Start with the multiples of a number.
For example, if they are learning the 3 times tables, then start by getting them to copy out multiples which are 3, 6, 9,12 all the way to 36. Get them to do this in columns. They should write this out and say it out aloud. They can do this as many times as they need. Try and encourage them to say it out aloud without looking. Encourage them to use whatever tactics they require. There is no set way to remember the numbers. This can be done over several weeks. Do not rush the process as it does take time for some children to remember, but once they do – they will be thrilled.
Then write the full number sentence out
Once they can write and recall the multiples without looking at the answers, they should move on to writing out from 1 x 3 = 3 and so on until they get to 12. They should then recite this to themselves as they write.
Mix it up with worksheets, printable games and online games
You should mix this up with online games, videos, printable games and worksheets. Do not just limit it to writing as they will soon get bored. They can listen to multiplication songs on YouTube and just have fun learning the times tables.
There are cheats for the nine, four, twelve times tables. For nine times tables all the numbers add to nine. For fours they can double and double again (e.g. 4 x 6 is 6 plus 6 = 12 and 12 plus 12 is 24).
For the nines 9 x 7 = 63 (6 and 3 make 9. Also one back from 7 is 6. The first number of 9 x 7) 9 x 5 = 45 (4 and 5 make 9. Also, one back from 5 is ‘4’ the first number of 9 x 5). They can use the 11 times tables to get to the 12 times tables. It now is looking not so bad!
The key is to take your time and let them have fun learning. A little and often is the key to success. The important aspect here is that we prepare children for other aspects of maths, such as factors and long division and algebra… which all require knowledge of the times tables.