Do you remember learning your times tables at school? Knowing tables facts is still a crucial part of any child’s education.
Mastering times tables will help your child
- Master basic maths
- Improve their mental arithmetic
- Understand important mathematical concepts
- Excel at complicated maths once they reach secondary school
- Use maths in everyday tasks
- Grow in confidence
If you’re looking for ways to help your child learn their times tables, our guide is full of efficient, effective, and fun tips to help your child become a times table wizard!
Times tables: why do we learn them?
First of all, what are the times tables and why does your child need to learn them?
A times table is a multiplication list that shows the multiples of a specific number. For example, here’s the 2x tables:
- 1 × 2 = 2
- 2 × 2 = 4
- 3 × 2 = 6
- 4 × 2 = 8
- 5 × 2 = 10
- 6 × 2 = 12
- 7 × 2 = 14
- 8 × 2 = 16
- 9 × 2 = 18
- 10 × 2 = 20
- 11 × 2 = 22
- 12 × 2 = 24
In Scotland, children should know all multiplication tables up to 12×12 by the end of P5 or P6 (Year 4 or Year 5 in England).
Of course, every child learns at their own pace and won’t follow this timeframe exactly.
You might remember learning tables ‘by rote’ at school. While memorisation can be helpful, it’s better to give children an understanding of what times tables are and why they’re doing it first. Knowing the ‘why’ behind a maths formula will help children become pros at problem solving and help them to become independent and creative thinkers!
LS Tuition tutors help children make meaningful connections in their learning and focus on the bigger picture. We’ve put together our top tips to help children learn their multiplication tables.
Where to start with learning times tables
Maths lessons can feel overwhelming, even for adults! A recent study found that 47% of parents dread helping their children with maths homework.
Luckily, there are 3 key phases that make teaching and learning times tables easier:
- Number Lines or Squares
- Repeated Addition and Memorisation
As pupils work through each phase in sequence they’ll build their knowledge of, and confidence with, numbers multiplied.
Grouping involves dividing things into equal groups or sets.
One easy exercise involves grouping tiddlywinks counters to show children how to count in multiples. Take a large sheet of paper and draw several separate circles. Next, group tiddlywink counters within the circle.
To show 1×2 put two counters within one circle.
Or, to show 2×5 put 5 counters in one circle and another 5 counters in a second circle. Then count the total number of counters to show that two groups of 5 = 10.
This visual representation helps children understand the inverse, too.
For example, 2×5 is represented by two circles containing 5 counters each.
5×2 is represented by five circles containing 2 counters each.
Yet both groups add up to 10.
Visual techniques help children to fully understand the times tables instead of simply memorising them.
Number Lines or Squares
Now that children understand that times tables means grouping numbers, they can move on to number lines.
Number lines are what they sound like – a visual representation of numbers along a horizontal line. You also get number ladders, which are vertical instead of horizontal.
Number lines help develop counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and division skills. You can show how numbers increase or decrease by moving right or left along the number line.
After grasping grouping, children can ‘skip-count’ in groups to the left or right.
Another great way of helping children learn maths is to leave some spaces on the number line blank. This encourages them to use their existing knowledge to fill the gap.
Keep learning fun! Why not use a piece of string and brightly coloured paper clips as a number line?
Repeated Addition and Memorisation
Repeated addition is when equal number groups are added together.
Let’s start with 5 groups of 3 apples, which can be represented as 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3.
A number line can be used to visually illustrate the above.
Next children will be shown that repeated addition can be written in the form of multiplication. So, 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 becomes 5×3.
Children will also learn that multiplication can be written in two ways:
- 5×3 (5 groups of three items)
- 3×5 (3 groups of five items)
yet both totals are the same.
Repeated addition helps children learn multiplication facts.
For example, children might not know their nine times tables or 4 x 9. Yet by writing 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 they will arrive at the correct answer.
Memory and teaching times tables
Can memory still be used to teach times tables?
A University of Hertfordshire study found that memorisation is useful when maths facts can be recalled immediately and with accuracy. Rote memory can help with basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication, and bridges the gap between counting on fingers and more complex maths problems.
Memorising times tables to free up working memory
It has to be said that a degree of memorisation is important when it comes to times tables. As students progress, it helps to be able to recall basic maths facts fast so that their working memory is freed up to reason through trickier maths problems/skills.
However, it’s crucial that children understand the why behind their maths lessons to develop analytical thought and problem solving skills.
Our best times tables tips!
Learning times tables can be difficult and stressful. There is particular pressure at KS1 and KS2 where the foundation of good maths ability is laid. That’s why we’ve gathered our tutors’ top tips to make learning tables stress-free and fun.
Set a solid foundation with the 2 times table
The 2 times table is the most important multiplication table. It’s the foundation of times tables knowledge and helps children master maths at every stage of the national curriculum.
If children don’t have a firm grasp of the 2 times table it can cause difficulty later. When teaching the 2 times table you ought to bear a few things in mind to avoid confusion.
1. Consistent recitation
Switching how you recite the 2 times table will confuse children. Always be clear and consistent. E.g. “One two is two, two twos are four, three twos are six, four twos are eight”, or “Two ones are two, two twos are four, two threes are six, two fours are eight
2. Start small
Practise up to 3×2 until your child is fluent and confident. Then work up to 5×2. Building gradually means that children have a firm grasp of maths facts before progressing to the next stage. Progressing too quickly can cause confusion and stress. If your child makes a mistake, return to a known fact and continue from there.
3. Use tables worksheets
Times tables worksheets are a great visual aid to help your child learn multiplication tables. Speed grids and practise drills can turn dull lessons into fun activities!
Teach children to count in everyday life
Try counting in twos together when unpacking the shopping or tidying toys. Using visual methods, like grouping similar fruits together, makes it easier to grasp abstract addition. Encouraging children to use maths every day in a low-pressure environment will build confidence. Soon they’ll be counting fluently without your help!
Hang up a times table grid
Hanging up a times tables grid is a proven method that helps children learn their times tables.
Start with an empty grid and help your child to fill in each empty box. When the multiplication table is complete, hang the grid on their bedroom door or the fridge to remind them of their achievement and to inspire them to keep practicing!
Learn multiplication facts with song
It’s much easier to learn a particular set of times tables with the help of a memorable song.
Try the 6 Times Table set to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Out. It’s a fun way to learn, and so catchy your child won’t even know they’re learning!
They could even build confidence by teaching the song to their teacher and classmates.
Play multiplication games
Maths games make learning times tables easy. You can play games for free online or why not stage a multiplication war?
This fun card game is played with a pack of Uno cards in pairs. Discard the picture cards and shuffle the leftover number cards. Place the deck face down. Get the first player to turn over the top two cards, then their opponent turns over two cards. Multiply the numbers on each pair of cards to determine who has the highest score, and is the winner. The winner and their opponent’s cards are then discarded in a ‘prisoner pile’. The ultimate victor is the player with the most cards in their prisoner pile.
At LS Tuition, we have dozens of times table games that our children love to play with us including card games, board games and even Times Table Mathopoly!
Teach times tables tricks
Did you know you can count the 9 times table super fast on your fingers?
- Hold up both hands and number your fingers 1- 10 from your left to right thumb
- Lower the finger of the number you want to multiply by 9 e.g. if 3×9, lower your third finger
- Count how many fingers are to the left of your lowered finger (in this case two)
- Next count how many fingers are to the right of your lowered finger (in this case seven)
- Now add two and seven to get your answer: 3×9 = 27
Fascinating tricks engage young minds. Finger counting can also help as a stepping stone to memorising and accurately recalling maths facts.
Teach kids times tables by using their interests
Most children find it easier to learn multiplication tables when maths is paired with a topic they find interesting. For example, you could watch football together and multiply the goals scored by each team.
If both you and your child enjoy baking, try grouping ingredients into multiples to teach them how to skip count.
Above all, keep going. Many children find multiplication tables a challenge. Often, it’s simply a case of finding a method that works for them. Reward their effort, whether they get the right answer or not.
Learning should be fun. Your child might even look forward to table facts practice with the above tips!