I cannot count the number of times that I have been told by a parent that their child just doesn’t seem to be able to remember their multiplication tables. Memorizing multiplication tables has been causing problems for decades, or dare I even say centuries.
The challenge with not learning our basic facts is that it severely slows down math as they get older. Being unable to have that information at your fingertips, makes adds extra steps and extra frustrations as a child gets older.
Learning multiplication facts, in most cases, must be an intentional act. There are a handful of children that will see them, learn them, and remember them immediately. In my experience, this is not the norm. So, I suggest, be intentional about teaching and aiding your child in memorizing them, and if you happen to have one of those children with a photographic memory that can look at them and remember them, well then, nothing is lost because the end goal is simply for them to know, understand and retain their multiplication tables.
Firstly, it’s important to ensure that your child understands that multiplication means ‘groups of.’ Start by choosing a few facts to review. Perhaps 2 x 5 and 5 x 2. Clearly outline that 2 x 5 means 2 groups of 5. 5 x 2 means 5 groups of 2. This basic understanding is important. In some cases, we may think, “oh my child knows that for sure!” But, if they have been simply memorizing facts of singing a multiplication rhyme, this piece may not have processed as well as we would like.
If your child is new to multiplication tables, get some paper and some tokens and practice creating groups of. Dried peas, pennies, or any other easily countable item can be used tokens. Once you believe that your child does truly understand the concept of multiplication, there are a few things you can try to help them retain the information.
Here are my top 6 suggestions.
Yolande Robinson, M.Ed.