Times tables will be formally assessed in primary schools for the first time since 1944. The Multiplication Tables Check will be taken by pupils at the end of year 4 during the summer term from the 2019-2020 academic year onwards.
Why does it matter?
Times tables act as the bedrock to more advanced maths such as long multiplication or long division. Knowing their tables automatically enables children to work faster and more confidently.
Times tables require practice and repetition to help them stick and children can find this both boring and complicated. There are lots of ways we can support our children’s times tables practice at home that are both fun and interesting.
What method should you use?
Your children may recite their tables in a different way to how you learned yours. I would advise to go with the method used for reciting at their school to encourage consistency for your child and to keep it simple.
Using a number grid
Using a number grid (a 10 by 10 grid with the numbers 1 to 100 on it) can help your child see patterns in their times tables. If they are learning the 7x table, get them to count in 7s and colour each number square as they progress on the grid. This will help them get familiar with this particular times table before they begin to learn it.
Step by step
The 2 times table is obviously the easiest and it is believed that once children know this well, they will make sense of the others. Once your child can recite it, then it is useful to have them write it. Then check their understanding, one at time, out of order and sporadically to really make sure they can answer automatically.
When you move on to the 3’s it can take a little more practice, so if you just go up to 5 x 3 initially this may prove less overwhelming.
Step by step is key to progressing confidently.
Do it together
Reciting your tables along with your child can be lots of fun and doesn’t have to be restricted to sitting at a desk. Why not have a go at reciting together as you run up the garden, do star jumps, walk to school, or wait for dance class. Chanting along to a multiplication CD in the car can also be a giggle.
Learning a few simple tricks can help your child a lot:
5 times table always end in a 5 or a zero
10 times tables always end in a zero
For the 9 times table the two numbers in the answer always equal nine i.e. 18 (1+8=9), 27 (2+7=9), 36 (3+6=9.)
You can find tricks for pretty much all of the tables but nothing beats just memorising them.
Works both ways
Teaching your children that times tables work both ways is SO useful. If they come across 5 x 7 and get stuck, switching in their head to 7 x 5 might help. Seems obvious, but it’s not always obvious to a child.
Making it relevant
Asking your child to use their tables in everyday life makes them meaningful e.g. ‘How long till half term,’ they ask? ‘You have 4 weeks of 7 days left so you need to work out 7 x 4’ you answer, and this way their times table are naturally useful.
Praising effort and engagement will go a long way. Impatience and irritability from you or your child is never going to be conducive to learning and that’s definitely the time to give it a rest for a while.
It might also be a good idea to brush up own times tables!