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Maths help please - relearning the basics?

(23 Posts)
VBisme Mon 13-May-13 08:55:54


My ESD is starting maths GCSE next year. She's in the top set at school and seems to be fine.

However she took a GCSE paper and homework was to go through the questions she got wrong.

As we worked through it, it was apparent that she doesn't really know her 6, 7 and 8 times tables. I know that she could get through her GCSEs okay, but she'd like to go into engineering and take maths at A level.

Does anyone know of a resource that will help her nail these basics, or is it just a case of learning them parrot fashion (which is what we did when I was at school and eventually you just remember them).


MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 09:04:03

Say after me ... 6 times 1 is 6. 6 times 2 is 12 etc etc

Or am I missing something?

VBisme Mon 13-May-13 09:12:10

Hi mom,

Yes I had a feeling that might be the answer grin

Okay, looks like we've got a fun few weeks of parroting times tables......

DeWe Mon 13-May-13 09:47:47

Tables squares?

Dd2 learnt hers doing these timed. You can get some to print off here.

Choose the ones that have the numbers in different orders to make it more a case of having to think about each times table rather than just adding down the column.

meala Mon 13-May-13 09:56:14

There's an easy trick for the 6x table.
If you want to find eg 6 x 7

1. Hold up 7 fingers
2. Count along the fingers in 5s. ( 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35)
3. Go back to the start and count again in 1s (36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42).

It sounds complicated but not really once you have done it a few times. My 7 year old knows 6x and learned this way.

For 8x table, if she knows 4x then just double to get answer for 8x.

Try the sumdog website for games to practice. You can choose which maths you need to work on. Squeebles app is also ok but maybe a bit young for your dd.

secretscwirrels Mon 13-May-13 11:08:35

Say after me ... 6 times 1 is 6. 6 times 2 is 12 etc etc
This is the only way.

She is a product of the way tables are not taught at primary school.
That includes lots of clever tricks and patterns similar to what mela says. However none of these will allow her to access the answer instantaneously .
I made both of mine learn their tables the old fashioned way when the school were doing useless counting methods.
When it comes to GCSE it saves valuable exam time if they don't have to even think about basics.
How you could get through A level without it I don't know.
I have DS1 doing A level Maths and Further Maths and DS2 doing GCSE at the moment.

webwiz Mon 13-May-13 12:36:45

DD1 had the same problem and she used this

VBisme Mon 13-May-13 12:43:38

Thanks everyone. I do think she needs to just get it embedded in her brain so it's automatic.

Webwiz you're a genius, I've got that game it's perfect! grin

meala Mon 13-May-13 12:59:38

Secretswirls, for some people, learning tables by rote just doesn't work. There are so many learning styles and ways inwhich the brain works. Everyone is different in how they learn so other options must be available as a starting point. Once tricks are mastered then the knowledge begins to be learned in a visual or tactile way which is kore meaningful to some learners.

meala Mon 13-May-13 12:59:54

More, not kore!

TheFallenNinja Mon 13-May-13 13:07:49

Parrot fashion worked for me

kalpamum Mon 13-May-13 14:13:13

My dd is dyslexic and I have spent 5 year trying to teach the parrot fashion. Has not worked but this ling has. She no has no issues.

complexnumber Mon 13-May-13 14:36:42

Rather strangely, being good at maths does not necessarily imply good at arithmetic (and vice versa).

I have a degree in maths, but I was absolutely hopless at scoring for darts matches in the pub. Everyone else seemed to be able to do the subtractions instantaneously.

GibberTheMonkey Mon 13-May-13 14:40:01

I suffered from not learning them by rote and self taught later.
After a few days of learning then start barking them at her. What's 5x7? Lasagne for dinner! 6x3? Can you make you bed please

Being able to pull them out of your head rather than in order is the next stage

Good luck to her

NeverQuiteSure Mon 13-May-13 14:41:29

Times table 'tricks' are brilliant at laying the foundations for a deeper understanding (and interest) of how numbers work.

Rote learning is great for increasing speed and every day mental arithmetic.

Different skills, although both very useful.

<realises this answer does nothing to help the OP>

secretscwirrels Mon 13-May-13 16:55:46

Mental arithmetic is a valuable life skill.
Yes you could probably do a maths degree without it hmm but how much better if you just knew it off by heart? It's boring, yes, but once learned they are there for ever. Why are we so keen to protect children being bored by hard work?
I am sorry but I think there are very few people who couldn't learn by rote. I have sat in Maths lessons and watch so many children counting on their fingers to work their way painfully through to 6x7.
DS2 was one of those who didn't "get" maths at first. Knowing his tables took the pressure off.

Sorry about soap box.

meala Mon 13-May-13 18:39:05

Secretscwirrels, have you taught maths? I don't think that your comment is very helpful. There are many children who 'cannot' learn by rote and to see them struggling and miserable because they can't do their work without knowing tables is really sad. If they can be given tricks to help then that is great.

meala Mon 13-May-13 18:41:15

There is no way that some children are just too lazy to learn their tables hmm, their brains are just not programmed tonwork that way

soontobeslendergirl Mon 13-May-13 18:55:51

I'm one of those that found Maths easy and Arithmetic difficult- I still don't know my tables- I went to school in the 70s when learning by rote was still around and I never ever learned. No1 son is the same. He's a clever boy, especially with Maths - he was chosen to do the UK Maths challenge thingy but a few years ago I had him in tears as he couldn't do his tables - those number grids regularly caused a meltdown - i was meant to time how long he took but would have had to put down hours and most of that with tears and frustration. He always gave them a go but i'd limit it to see what he could do in 20 minutes.

OPhow is she with the alphabet? I know it from start to finish but it takes me ages to put something in alphabetical order or look things up in the phone book for example - once you get into the middle clump of letters I am never sure of the order without reciting it in my head from the start sad blush - pretty much sure it's all related.

VBisme Mon 13-May-13 22:28:51

I'm totally going to push the brain training thing on the DS, but what slender mentions about the alphabet as well really hits a chord.

She does struggle with spelling, looking things up etc...... maybe there's something in it, but ultimately she's going to have to do exams competing against people who have learnt their times tables, and it costs valuable minutes to have to work it out.

Thanks again for all your responses, there is clearly some dispute as to the best approach, and if the rote learning doesn't work then I'll definitely try something else.

soontobeslendergirl Mon 13-May-13 23:15:05

i wouldn't worry too much - she is bright otherwise so can work it out and I still did well in my exams, I have a good job (and a calculator) etc it hasn't held me back smile

Probably more a boy thing, but minecraft has helped my son - working out how many blocks he needs i.e. building is 8 by 7 blocks so need 56 per layer etc.

noblegiraffe Tue 14-May-13 09:09:45

The first module of A-level maths is non-calculator, so yes she'd need them at A-level.

Instantaneous recall is the preference, but if she struggles, she also needs a back-up method for working them out, whether that be counting up, or doubling the 3 times table to get her 6 times table etc.

Things like the brain training (daily!) will then really help to keep things fresh in her mind and although she might need to work out answers to start with, constant practice will mean that she will recall more straight off and instant recall will come with time.

PastSellByDate Thu 16-May-13 05:08:16

Hi VBisme

It may help to explore how solid her x3 and x4 tables are.

I say this because to solve x6 and x8 - you simply need to double the answer of these tables.

So if she knows these tables well - and she can work on her doubling skills - then she's 2/3rds the way there.

x7 is always tricky. But again - it's how you think about it.

Because your DD should by now know x1 - x6 and x8 - x12 - then in principle all she actually needs to learn is 7 x 7 = 49. Get that one and you've got the whole table because you know the rest. There's no trick really - so it's either knowing 6 x 7 = 42 and add 7 mentally quickly or just outright memorising it.

My DDs have always found 7x8 tricky - but if you teach yourself 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - then when you hear 7x 8 (or 8x 7) - you will remember 56.

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