Team up with your child - together you can tame this beast and you'll both feel like champions.
Teaching and learning Maths in the classroom is difficult when children don't know their times tables. In fact, I've seen kids just plateau in their learning. Knowing multiplication facts confidently are one of the building blocks of problem solving and allow children to be more efficient at working stuff out.
Learning times tables are found on most weekly homework sheets, so often parents feel that box is ticked and it's not practiced enough at home. But unfortunately, it's a skill that takes time, patience and effort. Schools are busy places so generally speaking there is not enough time, space or quiet in a Maths lesson to learn these basic facts so that they can be recalled at ninja speed.
When starting out, tackle the 2x table first. It'll provide a few fist pumps and a positive start. After that, the best order to learn in is: 10x, 5x, 4x, 3x, 9x, 6x, 7x, 8x.
Always learn them in order ie) 1x 4, 2 x 4, 3 x 4 etc before mixing the questions up randomly. Some children may need an extra step of learning the multiples first (ie. multiples of 4 are 4, 8,12,16, etc) and then move to the equation 1 x 4, 2 x 4 etc.
Like any new skill, practice is important, but understanding the concept is also key.
Lots of kids find it baffling at first and so explaining the idea of multiplication with pictures or equipment can be useful when first starting out. Rather than saying what is 2 times 3, say what is 2 groups of 3 or try putting it in a story like "I had 2 plates with 3 pieces of pizza on them. How many pieces of pizza do I have altogether?' This will help the child form a mental or physical picture and an understanding that it is groups of the same number you are adding.
Here are some quick and easy ideas to help.
Iceblock sticks - Buy a couple of packs of coloured ice block sticks. Take a different colour for each times table and using a permanent marker write the equation (eg 3 x 5 = ) Then write the answer on the back (15). Now that the sticks are colour coded, you can work on one times tables at a time or muddle up the colours to test a range of times tables. Team up this activity with a Smart Art Learning Poster for your kids to refer to when they get stuck. Then add a timer to add competition when confidence and recall is secure.
Catchy tunes - Check out these awesome songs that will get your child hooked. These ones are not babyish and kind of cool set against modern songs. Search 'Mr DeMaio' to get his amazing collection of times tables songs on his youtube channel.
A bit of screen time – there are a ton of ipad games to reinforce times tables. Some of our favourites are Squeebles Times Tables 2, Eggy Times Tables by Reading Eggs and Times Table Lab.
Have a chart nearby of the times tables so your child can look at check an answer if they are stuck. Often times tables are just tested and not taught. We love the step by step training on Squeebles. To start with setup to include multiple choice answers - fantastic support for a new recruit.
Puzzle Practice - This is as easy as it looks to make and works really well with concreting the answers to the times tables as the answers are provided. On a strip of paper or card, write the equation out eg ) 1 x 4 = 4. Make a cut after the equals sign, so you have two pieces of the puzzle. Then repeat until 10 x 4 = 40. Your child can create the equations in order at first and later can jumble them up. In time, you can add a timer to add some competition. When this is secure, remove the answers and the child can answer the questions independently or give them the answer and they can say the question. Simple but effective and quick.
Tell a story - Some tables are trickier than others so get creative with silly sentences - they stick! This one worked well for my daughter. She found 8x6=48 difficult. So we created the sentence "8 slices of watermelon with 6 pips in each slice. Ewww yuck 48 pips!" Encourage your child to take ownership for their learning and get them to choose a theme that they are interested in and create their own sentence. Repeat the story until it is solidified.
Children feel such a sense of pride when they master their times tables, so celebrate with them. And while today, kids can plug the times tables equation into a calculator or google the answer (generally with voice recognition I find...), knowing the answer quickly and being able to recall the answer instantly has sooooooo many benefits. So flex those multiplication muscles!