Monday, August 05, 2013

Times Tables

No, this isn’t a snappy title for my metaphysical musings. It is actually about multiplication tables.

Over the years I’ve had lots of conversations with parents and teachers about children learning their times tables. When we were in primary school, we learnt them by rote, chanting them together in the classroom. These days, school students are expected to learn their times tables at home, and parents don’t like it. It’s stressful and the children get upset because most of them find it difficult. Well, I’m here to help.

I was reading the Guardian section where readers send in questions and other readers supply answers. Someone asked why some times tables are harder to learn than others. All agreed that the 7 times tables is the hardest and some tips were offered.

Have a look at this grid. Create it by starting at one and seeing the pattern.

7 4 1
8 5 2
9 6 3

Reading it left to right tells you the digit in the ones column. Have a go.

Here is the grid for the tens column answers.

0 1 2
2 3 4
4 5 6

But the thing that has really excited me about maths this week is the Romany or Gypsy method. You use it for working out tables from 6 x 6 to 10 x 10, which are the ones most difficult to learn. You do it using your fingers. If you know the trick using your fingers for the 9 times tables, it’s an extension of that. This video goes for two minutes. Have a look, then practise with your kids.

If you want to read the whole conversation in The Guardian, the link is here.

And that is the most helpful I can be this week.