To perform well in maths at school a child needs extra help, especially the earlier years, in order to build a sound foundation for the years ahead.
Most programs and courses available teach algorithms, assuming students already know their times tables.
This very often leaves a child struggling with simple multiplication and division.
Most parents don’t know how to help for fear of doing it wrong.
Some try using extra maths books but the problem remains the same as many parents are unable to guide their children as would a teacher.
This need not happen.
the Times Tables
Basic maths hinges on the mastery of the times tables.
Needless to say, a thorough knowledge of the multiplication tables can make a huge difference in a child’s progress starting from grade 3 through to middle school.
It helps build confidence and self-esteem in a child at an earlier age.
Mastering the times tables helps a child know off the top of their head the answer to 3 x 5 rather than having to stop and think: three lots of five . . . and start counting with the fingers.
We all know that it’s also important to know the logic and reasoning behind why 3 x 5 equals 15.
This is something that must be left for the child to figure out at a later date - and they would figure it out later anyway-
At this early stage it suffice for them to know 5 x 3 = 15
Once they know it off by heart, they can answer any multiplication fact quicker without any waste of time.
Have you ever tried learning a song? The more you heard it the more the words became familiar and soon you start singing along every time you hear it on the radio to the point that you became a nuisance at dinner table.
The same with the tables, except that your teacher would love you for that.
It is a known fact that children are fast learners and can learn many languages
if exposed to them when still young.
So why waste such potential?
Some argue that children should learn as they go, that they should discover for themselves why 3 rows of bricks times 5 rows of bricks makes a total of 15 bricks.
In what way would it affect a child if she learnt a new song or exposed to several languages?
The answer is obvious.
Then what harm can mastering the times tables be other than changing a child school life for the better?
So, for those parents with children coming home asking for help when solving simple multiplication or division problems, the problem would never go away unless some effort is put in helping their children master their times tables as soon as possible.
Now, one thing is to say, "Yes, I'll teach my child the times tables." and the other is to actually do it.
Some would not even contemplate doing it because as parents we are too close and too affectionate to our child to suddenly turn around and show our darker side, you know what I mean.
That what makes it difficult. We'd rather have a tutor take up that role.
There is however a way around it without stressing your child out too much. There perhaps be a way to make an omelette without breaking the egg...
What follows is a method that I still use to teach children the times tables.
Using the same system without trying to cut corners or variation, you would be able to help your child master the times tables within weeks.
Cut out a small 3 cm x 6 cm card and write the 2 table on it.
It fits snugly in your child’s tiny hand so it can be referred to from time to time.
Having only one card with one table at a time makes the exercise special and their mind more focused on the job at hand.
Start with table 2, and once it’s mastered, write up a new card for table 3, and so on.
Start with 2 x 1 = 2, 2 x 2 = 4, etc. and so on to 10 x 10 - or up to 12 x 12 if you want to.
Children like to be praised and love gifts.
Set a goal and promise them something nice in progressive stages.
Set them short-term goals and give them a treat for learning tables 2 and 3, then 4 and 5 and so on.
Continue rewarding them as they master tables 4 and 5, up to table 12- at which point you could give them something of value that they always wanted.
I usually work on a point system - each time they master a table they score 5 points.
They would need to score 50 points (mastering 10 tables) in order to get what they want.
It must be something they really wish for.
It is also important to ask them random questions, on what they have already learnt, from time to time especially when driving them to school. Limit it to 5 questions as you don’t want to make their trip a bore.
Set a limit of 5 questions per day, after school, per table already learnt.
They lose a point for each mistake, and gain no points for getting them all correct,since they are supposed to know them already.
Adjust the total points achieved every-day.
The aim is to keep them always on the ball.
By the time they master all the tables they should have at least 40 out of 50 points as a strict minimum in order to win their prize.
Sit with the child for about 15 minute every-day and ask them to produce the 3 cm x 6 cm table-card which they always carry in their wallet/purse or pocket-it must always be carried on them.
Start as follows:
Step 1: Say 2 x 1 = 2 (‘Two ones are two . . .”)
Now, get them to repeat it 30 times out loud on their own while tapping gently and rhythmically on their laps or on a book placed on their laps.
Step 2: Then say: 2 x 2 = 4 –“Two two’s are 4 . . .”
Have them repeat this 30 times out loud on their own while tapping three times: tap, tap, tap,
Step 3: Ask them to repeat 2 x 1 = 2 and 2 x 2 = 4 sequentially, as in “two ones are two, two twos are four . . .” 10 times.
Step 4 Next, ask them to repeat 2 x 3 = 6 (“Two threes are six”) 30 times
Step 5 Now, ask them to say 2 x 1 = 2, 2 x 2 = 4, 2 x 3 = 6 - all together, sequentially, as in “two ones are two, two twos are four, two threes are six . . .” and repeat the lot 10 times.
You get the idea.
Rinse and repeat! Do as much as you can in fifteen minute chunks - and give them a treat if you feel like it.
Please note that as adults, we know that 5 x 1 = 5 or 8 x 1 = 8, and find no necessity in learning it but, it’s all new to a child and it’s important to get them to say it 30 times in order to reinforce it.
Same as in speech, the tong ‘remembers’ how to twist and curl itself in order to produce a sound.
In the same way, with repetition, the tong muscles get automatically adjusted and co-ordinates with the brain to initiate and reproduce the sounds that are continuously repeated.
After a while, their thinking and speech start to harmonise and reciting the tables becomes second nature.
The next day review up to where you previously stopped and ask the child to recite what they have learnt - as in step 5 above - and continue as far as you can go from there for fifteen minutes.
You will be amazed how much you can achieve in a week. Try to focus on and complete two times tables per week.
Another tip to accelerate the learning process is to always ask the child questions while going for a walk, outings, picnics, and so on.
Also, it’s crucial to allow them to cheat from time to time by turning a blind eye!
Within four to six weeks you will see a noticeable change in their confidence and their performance at school.