How to help your child learn their times tables
Times tables might feel like just a jumble of random numbers, but you can help your child to spot that they have patterns.
- Numbers in the five times table always end in five or zero
- Numbers in the six times table end in 6, 2, 8, 4, 0 and then that pattern
- If you add together the digits in numbers from the three times table, you'll get another number in the three times table. So 3 x 7 = 21, and 2 + 1 = 3. 3 x 12 =36 and 3 + 6 = 9
- That works for all multiples of three: 3 x 142 = 426, and 4 + 2 + 6 = 12, and 1 + 2 = 3. Cool, huh?
2. Connect times tables to division
It's important that children realise that multiplication and division are connected to each other - this will help them enormously when they start learning long division.
You can help with this by writing out each times table fact on a card. You would write 5 x 7 = 35 like this:
Cover up the 35 and ask "Five times seven is what?" Then cover up the five and ask "35 divided by seven is what?" or "Seven times what is 35?"
3. Celebrate success, not failure
It's demoralising for a child if they struggle with times tables and keep getting questions wrong. Instead of picking out failures, celebrate success. Keep a chart of which facts your child knows, so that they can see their knowledge continuing to grow. Children also like to beat their personal bests.
Write the numbers 1 to 12 on different cards and shuffle them. Suppose they are working on their six times tables. Get them to turn over one card at a time, and multiply the number by six. Keep doing this till they've gone through all twelve cards. Use a stopwatch on your phone to time them and record that as their best time so far - then challenge them to beat it.
1. The finger trick for the nine times table
Put your hands on your knees and number your fingers 1 to 10 from left to right. So your little finger on the left is 1, ring finger is 2, and so on all the way to your right little finger at 10. What is 4 x 9? Bend over finger number four. Now count how many fingers are to the left of the bent finger (three) and how many to the right (six). So there is your answer, three-six, thirty-six.
2. Multiplying by 11
Everyone knows the eleven times table: It's easy. But what about multiplying eleven by numbers higher than ten?
Games to try
1. Rock Paper Multiply
2. Fizz Buzz
And remember - learn one and get one free!
Learning every combination of tables up to 12 x 12 can seem daunting. But remember, 8 x 3 is the same as 3 x 8. This means every time you learn one multiplication fact, you are learning a second one for free!
Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew's book Maths on the Go: 101 Fun Ways to Play with Maths is out now. It's full of fun games, activities and ideas for how to play with maths - grab yourself a copy and start making learning maths fun.
Rob and Mike joined us for a Q&A to answer your questions about helping your children with maths. Read their answers here.
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Last updated: over 1 year ago