Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summertime, summertime, summer times tables……

When school starts in August, there are always many students who don’t know or remember their times tables.  They usually tell me that they forgot them over the summer.  I then point out that they managed to remember their ABCs over the summer so why not their times tables? The obvious answer is that they use the alphabet for reading, while they don’t use times tables, at least not often enough.

So let’s try to change that. We all agree that knowing your times tables is  important because they are the building blocks for learning division, algebra, long multiplication and fractions. And brain studies show that repetition helps build synapses in the brain – the more you repeat it, the more natural it becomes to have the answer pop into your head.

Math facts are best learned when your child understands them and uses them in different situations. Your child needs to understand that multiplication is repeated addition – a faster way of adding. You can help them by developing number sense for facts. For example, if they know their six times tables easily, they already know a sevens fact (7 x 6).  If they can’t remember 6 x 6, they might remember 6 x 5 is 30 and then can add 6 and 30 to get 36.

Music, stories, and visual associations can help with learning and retention.  Some great free apps for practicing facts are Splash Math, Sushi Monster, and Multiplication Rap. Two apps that are good but cost 99 cents are Squeebles Multiplication and Tower Math. A website that I like is www.topmarks.co.uk/maths-games/7-11-years/times-tables

Don’t get frustrated if your child doesn’t learn as quickly as you think they should – negative emotions reduce learning.