Times tables are the foundations of all mathematics. They lead to division, fractions, algebra, and geometry, and your child needs to be proficient at them to continue to feel confident and enjoy learning maths. Here are some tips for how your child should practice their times tables.
Tip 1: HOW to recite times tables efficiently
Firstly, your child should recite the times tables as “one two’s are two, two two’s are four, three two’s are six” and aim for them to recite the entire table in less than 20 seconds.
It can take time for your child to wrap their mouth around saying their times tables this way. Allow them to practice for a bit first before timing them. It might take more than 20 seconds on their first few goes, and that’s okay! It’s all part of the journey. Remember that even a 1-second improvement is better than not having tried in the first place.
Once they can read the table in this way, in less than 20 seconds, cover the answers and recite again, aiming for less than 20 seconds. Move to the following times table when they can do this.
Continue to follow this pattern from x2 to x9.
You can encourage your child to recite the x10 and x11 tables to motivate them and help them learn how to recite quickly. The x12 table is optional as it is just the x10 and x2, two of the easiest to memorise.
We suggest reciting and memorising x2 to x9 because this is the basis of long multiplication. These tables also cover all of the tricky ones to remember.
Tip 2: How NOT to learn times tables
Here’s the biggest “What Not To Do” when your child is learning to memorise their times tables.
Keep your child from learning and reciting only the answers, for example, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, etc. If they only learn the answer, they don’t know where it comes from. Consider how your child can do long multiplication, such as 45 x 7. They need to know the answer to 5×7 and then 4×7. How will they know the answer quickly if they haven’t practised with the questions?
Remember, when your child is practising their tables, it is a journey. Praise the effort they put in.
Tip 3: What if your child ONLY struggles with certain times tables?
Rest assured, if your child struggles with specific times tables, there are effective ways to help them improve their understanding and retention. Most often it is x6, x7 and x8. Here are a couple of tips to try:
- Learn half of the table at a time. If we’re doing the x6 table, only learn 1×6 to 6×6 first. When your child can recite 1×6 to 6×6 in less than 10 seconds, then cover the answers and test them. When they’ve mastered the first half, try the second half from 7×6 to 12×6 and follow the same process. After that, combine it to do 1×6 to 12×6. They are aiming for less than 20 seconds.
- Listen to your child recite the times table without the answer, and find out which ones they stumble on most often. Once you identify which ones they always get stuck on in that particular table, have them practice them sequentially.
Often it is 6×6, 7×6, 8×6, 9×6 or this band in the x6, x7, x8 tables. That is because they have yet to learn those numbers, as they weren’t covered in the previous tables of x2 to x5. Think about it: 3×5 is the same as 5×3, 6×2 is the same as 2×6, answers they’ve already practised multiple times. But they haven’t practised 7×6 until they reach the 6 times table. So be patient with your child.
Tip 4: Learn the SQUARES
After your child has learned all of their times tables, Here is one final tip for those moments when they get a little bit stuck. Have your child recite and memorise all of the squares in sequence:
1×1=1, 2×2=4, 3×3=9, 4×4=16, 5×5=25, 6×6=36, 7×7=49, 8×8=64, 9×9=81.
If they get stuck on a particular one, work up or down from it. So if your child knows 7×7 is 49, then 7×8 is simple; it’s just 56. And because they have done all the recitation and memorisation, they can recall the answer quickly; it triggers the sequence in their brain to remember the answer.
If they get 20 seconds or more on the first go, that’s okay! Stay consistent and keep practising until they reach the target.
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