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Supporting Your Child with Times Tables

Why do children need to learn Times Tables?

Times tables are really important because they form the foundation for knowledge in so many different aspects of mathematics including multiplication, division, fractions, percentages, word problems, measurement and even algebra. Solid knowledge of tables and instant recall of times table facts supports children in their learning across the key stages and helps them to make better progress.

Children who do not have good recall of times tables often find that other areas of maths are hard to understand, which can result in them falling behind. Times table knowledge is also an essential life skill and will support pupils in everyday problem solving eg calculating a shopping bill, doubling a recipe or converting a measurement.

It is important to note that National Curriculum requirements for learning times tables have recently changed. The times table square below shows the 144 times tables multiplication facts that children* now need to commit to memory (by Year 4) in order to meet new standards set by the Government.

*This may not be a realistic target for some children, depending on their learning needs.

In order to meet these new standards, children must be able to recall all times tables multiplication and division facts (e.g 3x6=18, 6x3=18, 18÷3=6, 18÷6=3) within two or three seconds the faster the better. This means that children do not have time to work out the answer by counting up from 2x, 3x, 4x because this will take them too long.

Learning times tables to this level can be a daunting task for both children and parents and with this in mind, we have put together some suggestions to help you support your child with their learning at home.

The grid shows current expectations for times tables for each year group:

Year 1 Count in multiples of 2,5 and 10. Recall and use doubles of all numbers to 10 and corresponding halves.

Year 2 Recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 2, 5 and 10 multiplication tables, including recognising odd and even numbers.

Year 3 Recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 multiplication tables.

Year 4 Recall multiplication and division facts for multiplication tables up to 12 × 12

Year 5 Recall of all times tables and division facts up to 12 x 12 in mixed order.

Year 6 Quick recall of all times tables and division facts up to 12 x 12 in mixed order.

Are times tables learned in a particular order?

As per the grid above, children begin to learn the easiest tables first, which are the 1x, 2x and 5x and 10 x times tables. When learning the 2x table, this is often related to doubling and halving.

Once these tables have been learnt, it is best to continue with the tables listed as above eg the 3x, 4x and 8x.  When working with your child, remind them that the 4x table is double the 2x table which they already know. Then it is best to try the 6 x, 7x and 9 x tables, which are generally regarded as more difficult.

The UK National curriculum has recently re-included the 11x and 12 x tables for Years 4, 5 and 6 and these should be learned last and separately. It is worth nothing that children generally find the 11x table easy because of its pattern eg 2x11=22, 3x11=33.

Times Tables Language

There are many different ways to say the times tables and it is good for children to hear a range of sentences. However, it helps if you are consistent and adopt the language your child already uses at school. Examples include:

• three times eight is . . .
• three multiplied by six is …
• three eights are . ..
• three lots of four are . .
• what is four divided by two?

Do NOT encourage your child to memorise times table answers alone eg 2,4,6,8 because this does not help them understand the relationship between the numbers when they later come to learning division facts eg 2x2=4, 4÷2=2, or when solving word problems.

Which methods should I use?

• Initially Stick to one times table at a time to minimise confusion
• Start with chanting them together and writing them out slowly in order
• Move onto completing the answers quickly in order - on paper or verbally with your child
• Finally, move on to completing the answers in a random order
• Remind your child that 3 x 4 is the same as 4 x 3 and they will often know the times table fact from their knowledge of another table
• Once your child is more confident, look for and learn square numbers eg 3x3, 7x7 ( see the coloured numbers in the tables grid above )
• Talk about times table answers in relation to real life eg “21 (7x3) – that’s my lucky number,” "5 x 8 = 40 that's Mummy's age", "3 x 6 = 18 that's our house number." This will help them to memorise
• Try some of the times table games listed below.

Tips and Tricks

• Remember the 2s, 4s and 8 times tables are doubles of each other, with many common answers eg 2x8=16, 4x4 =16, 8x2 = 16
• For the nine times table, remind your child that the answer will be 10x the number, take away the number eg 9x5=45 (10x5=50-5=45).
• With a tricky times table eg 7x remind your child they already know many table facts from other times tables eg 7x4=28, 7x3=21
• Regular practise is key.  Ask questions in order, out of order, include multiplication and division facts, anytime and anywhere!

Times table card games

Take a pack of playing cards and remove all the picture cards including the aces. Then shuffle the pack and split it into 2 piles - one for you and one for your child.

Choose a times table to work with eg 5 x table. Like Snap, each person deals a card and the learner has to work out 5 x the number dealt. If they get it right they keep the card, if they get it wrong the dealer gets to keep them. When you are taking your turn, ask the child if you have got the answer right. You could try giving an incorrect answer to test their knowledge!

In order to speed up the recall of times tables, you can also introduce a speed requirement eg gradually decrease the answer time when the learner is ready, for example, “Answer before 5, 3, 2 seconds or the dealer wins!”

Alternatively, each player can deal a card at the same time and players can take it in turns to multiply the numbers together.

You can also remove some "easier" cards (eg 2, 3, 5,10) from the pack if you want to focus on the harder times tables.  If you want to extend the activity, use the Jack card as 11 and the Queen card as 12 to introduce the 11 and 12 times tables.

Times Table Games with Dice

Practice tables up to 6x6 using two normal dice. Throw the dice and ask the learner to multiply the numbers together.  This activity can be extended up to the 10 x table using a 10 sided dice.

In order to improve the speed of recall, roll the dice quickly and gradually reduce the time allowed so that answers are given within a couple of seconds.

Fizz Buzz

Fizz Buzz can be played during situations like a car journey or when out on a walk. The idea is to choose two times tables, eg the 3’s and the 5’s. Within your group, take it in turns to start counting and when you come to a number from the 3 times table say FIZZ. When you come to a number from the five times table say BUZZ eg:

1, 2,  FIZZ,   4, BUZZ,  FIZZ,  7, 8, FIZZ, BUZZ, 11, FIZZ, 13, 14, FIZZ BUZZ, 16

This game can be practiced with any combination of times tables.

Which websites are useful?

Practise times table facts - forwards, backwards, mixed questions and division facts at:

http://www.topmarks.co.uk/maths-games/hit-the-button

Create your own times table flash cards:

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/times-tables-flash-cards