Thursday, February 23, 2012

Learning Styles and the Times Tables

Even though the world we live in has a calculator built into every phone and iPod, our children are still expected to memorise the times tables. Depending on your child's learning style, they may accept the idea, or they may rebel against the task's inherent boredom.

Paradoxically, the problem deepens for those students who are good at maths. Because they know that 8x7 is the same as 8+8+8+8+8+8+8, they don't want to memorise the answer. Instead, they want to work it out every time, because it's more interesting. 16+16+16+8, this is the same as 32+24, so the answer is 56. Much more fun for an analytic brain to do the calculation than to learn by rote. The problem comes when the teacher needs an instant answer.

So, if memorise they must, what's the best way? Depending whether your child is visual, tactile, auditory or kinesthetic, here are some ideas on how to drill the times tables:
  • Put up a poster with the times tables on the inside of the toilet door.
  • When you're driving or cooking with your child, ask them five to seven times-table lines, like 3x3 and 7x6.
  • Let the child use cuisenaire rods to illustrate the answer. 
  • Write the question on the child's back and let them write the answer on yours.
  • Create a colourful worksheet to fill in.
  • Put the question in context: Anna's chocolate box has 4 rows of chocolates and each row holds 5 chocolates. How many chocolates are in the box?
  • Make up a song: Six times four is twenty-four. Or look for a ready song, for example,
To multiply by ten

you take the number then

Add a zero to it

And that’s the end. (

If you use the wrong approach for your child's learning style, you might put him off maths for a long time. Check their learning style today.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Some great ideas. My kids are very visual and hands on, so for multiplication we often use the "groups of" language to help them visualize the answer, which makes it easier for them to retrieve from their working memory.

One of the ways we've incorporated this is to visually show "groups of" with beans, m&m, or even dots. So 2x 3 is really two groups of 3 beans or 3 groups of 2 beans. We'll do it one way, and then do it the other way so they have the visual assigned in their head. The kinesthetic component of putting the beans in the groups and then moving them helps reinforce that when they see the problem or hear it, they know the answer and can see it in their heads.

The more we can visually and physically give our kids a frame of reference with math concepts the easier it is for them to memorize and remember.