Updated: Nov 25, 2019
We want students to know their multiplication facts (times tables) well. Not only do we want them to know the answers but be able to explain their answers too. No longer do we ask students to simply memorise times tables, without understanding. We want students to make links between different facts and use their logic and reasoning.
How would you work out 7 x 6? Perhaps you know that 6 x 6 = 36 and so you then can add an extra group of 6, taking you to 42. This is the type of thinking we are promoting.
How would you work out 13 x 6? When posing this question to students, we want students to be able to come up with suitable strategies. We don’t want them to say they do not know, because it’s not in the ‘times tables’. Perhaps you know 12 x 6 = 72, so then you’d add an extra 6. Or you’d do 10 x 6 and add 3 x 6 to it.
When helping your child with multiplication facts, begin by putting the focus on strategy and understanding, ask ‘how did you know that?” or “If you forgot the answer, how could you work it out quickly?” Even ask them to draw a diagram to explain what the question means. Avoid jumping straight into memorising answers, without the backing of understanding. Avoid expecting speed in the beginning, that will come over time and repeated exposures.
Rinse and Repeat
Then students need to practise to become fluent. It’s like learning to drive a manual car; in the beginning, everything is slower, as you think each step through. As your child gains confidence, start working on speed. Select a set of facts to learn at a time. Better to keep the learning of multiplication facts positive and don’t get bogged down.
A few minutes here and there over time all add up. Every little bit helps!
Justine Shelley is co-founder of Mfacts121 and Owner of Mfacts Studio. She is a highly qualified teacher with 20 years experience. Most recently working as a school Maths Leader, Number Intervention Specialist and Tutor at RMIT university (Bachelor of Education Studies; Mathematics and Alegbra) and is currently completing a Masters of Education (Mathematics Leadership). Justine’s passion for maths education stems from her belief that everyone can be a ‘maths person’.