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Do I have to learn my times tables?

Learning times tables

Many children are still working their way through primary school, not having a fluent knowledge of their times tables. It is a fundamental part of mathematics and comes into so many areas, especially in the juniors.

Children who have a good knowledge of their times tables are more likely to enjoy maths and be successful at it, as they are not being held back in areas such as fractions and area, by their lack of knowledge. Getting the questions correct, leads to more confidence and positivity in the subject and better achievement.

How best to learn them

Everybody has preferred ways of learning things, but having a variety of approaches will enable your child to work out what works best for them. It will also reduce the chance of them getting bored. Let’s face it, it can be pretty boring learning the same thing over and over again.

Use songs that repeat the questions and answers to help your child learn the numbers in a times table. There are many on YouTube, but a lot of them do not get to the point and spend too much time not actually saying the questions and answers. Have a look at my songs page to see how the lyrics can be used to get to the point and be repetitive enough for them to stick, without having lots of words that are nothing to do with the times table.

Although it can be seen as ‘old school’, chanting also has its place and if your child counts along with their fingers, links can be seen between the question and the answer. For example, in the six times table, when finger 2 is up, the answer is 12, when finger 4 is up, the answer is 24, finger 6 has the answer 36 and so on with the even numbers. This can really help build up knowledge and speed.

Writing them out really helps as well and it is great to look for patterns within them. Take the nine times table. It is full of patterns.

And of course, you can’t forget about apps and games to make learning them really fun. That’s why I set up No Pressure Maths - to make learning times tables fun, especially when you are playing with a friend or family member.

How long?

Little and often is the best when it comes to learning times tables. Stick with a single times table and work on it until it is well-known. UK schools follow the order of 2,5,10 and then 3,6,9 and 4,8,7 and finally 11 and 12. Children are expected to know their times tables by the end of Year 4.

Limit time to no more than 20 minutes, but learn them often. Everyday is needed until fluency begins to show. Both speed and accuracy are important, so you really need to mix up how they are learnt rather than just chanting them in order.

Although some children strive when there is competition, not all do, so don’t put too much pressure on them to play games with a time pressure. You’ll notice that my games don’t have any pressure with them. Hence, the name!

Rules

Try to look for rules that apply in each times table as it can help to speed up the learning process. Also, you’ll realise that you have already learnt some of the times tables.

Although it is seen as a chore by many, having fun with your child, making small, steady steps and adding variety will soon help them to become more speedy with their times tables.

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