Learning Times Tables

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Learning Times Tables

There are many parents and students who wonder why learning the times tables is important. It’s a necessity and your child is taught them while they are in elementary and middle school.

Once a child has mastered the times tables, they begin to gain that foundation in the mathematics field. This is going to benefit them throughout middle school and into high school as well. In fact many of today’s best paying careers need mathematics.

In this manual, we will look into learning times tables and provide some useful tips on how parents can help at home.

  1. A good foundation

Learning multiplication is an important foundation for learning different aspects of mathematics such as division, algebra, long multiplication, and even fractions.

For students that don’t have a solid grasp of the times tables, they may find these other areas to be hard to understand as well.

Lack of arithmetic skills makes it difficult for a child to keep up with class and this can cause them to fail and fall behind.

Using a calculator is not going to teach your child mathematics and sometimes there just aren’t 30 seconds to pull out a calculator and figure out a problem.

  1. Why learning the times tables is really important

If you think about it, you use multiplication in your day to day life.

When you go grocery shopping, you often need to compare out the cost of similar items or how much it will cost to get multiple items.

If you are cooking and need to make a double recipe you are going to need to know how to multiply and if you are at a store and want to determine what type of discount you are getting you need to learn multiplication.

Multiplication and mathematics is used, whether you realize it or not, almost on a daily basis.

  1. What about calculators?

While calculators are great tools to use in school, if your child depended on a calculator to do all the work, they would end up being stuck if they need to carry out simple sums without one.

It can also take a lot longer to figure out a simple solution that could have been solved faster if your child had known their times tables.

Relying on a calculator can also result in errors and in high school or on some tests, the use of calculators is not allowed.

  1. "Mastering" tables

Learning the times tables is a right of passage for school children - a kind of club membership that transforms their confidence once they join.

Children who have a strong grasp of their times tables are more confident when learning new mathematical concepts and, importantly, enjoy the subject more. Please note the words ‘strong grasp’ and not simply ‘memorised’.

Tables seem easy when you've learned them, but the prospect of having to learn them drives fear into children - and this in turn has a negative effect on learning.

And then there's "learning" and "mastering" - how well should they know them?  It's tempting to think that being able to answer the times tables and mastering them is the same thing. Unfortunately, they aren't.

Children need to be able to recall any times tables answer within a split second or two. The answer has to pop out of memory pretty much instantly.

  1. Regular practising of tables

We know from the experience of running our own mathematics school since 1984, that, when a child doesn’t know their times tables, it can obstruct progress – as they cannot draw on this knowledge to solve other maths problems.  

We have helped many lower-attaining students who understand more difficult mathematical concepts, yet struggle to develop or practise their new learning because of insecure number skills – with lack of times table knowledge as a root issue.

The mastery approach emphasises that getting facts to ‘stick’ in one’s memory is easier if the facts are developed over time and practised regularly but not ‘drilled’. The links and parallels between facts should be highlighted and played with, and the multiple representations of facts must be demonstrated and discussed.

  1. The solution?

Times tables are taught in early years through songs and chants, along with counting and grouping cubes. We then move on to using images and written multiplication. These techniques enhance understanding and fluency, by enabling the students to make links and spot patterns (such as the relationship between the two and four times table).

However, children find it boring, especially if the writing part takes too long.

In 1984 CAMI Education has developed a computer program to help children with their tables.

Over the years, the CAMI SpeedTest has become a universal standard for the rapid learning of tables. This program was available in the CAMI Edu-Suite – a major system running on the Windows computers and laptops, for the practising of mathematics.

When Smartphones became more powerful from 2015 onwards, a decision was made to make the CAMI SpeedTest available as a free download to help children with the learning of time tables.