I’m going to start this post by honestly telling you that math is not my forte. I’m not coming at this post from a math background or because I have researched the finer points of upper level math. I come at this as a homeschool mom who has realized that times tables are crucial – so much so, that I am willing to put all other math on hold to focus my attention on getting my children proficient in them.
When my oldest son was in elementary school, we didn’t have a lot of money to be spending on homeschool curriculum. I had been given a copy of Saxon 54 and after looking through the text, I realized I could easily transition him from his current Horizons Math 3 to Saxon 54 if he learned his times tables. So, that’s what we did. I spent about a month helping him memorize his times tables, and then he started Saxon 54.
When my next child came to the same spot in her math, I expected to transition her the same way I had my older son, but quickly realized Saxon was not going to be a good fit for her. We kept plugging away at her math lessons, but I noticed she really didn’t have her multiplication memorized and it was effecting everything she was learning. So, we stopped using her math workbooks and focused solely on her times tables. Once she had those facts in place and could recall them quickly, her math abilities and understanding increased exponentially.
By the time my next child came along, I knew we would hit a place where I would have to assess her knowledge of the times tables and act accordingly. By this time I was convinced my children needed to have their times tables memorized and not rely on a chart. It was apparent that memorization was the key to moving past simple problems and into the more complex equations of algebra and beyond. Multiplication was the crux of upper level math, and it had to be done without hesitation. It had to be implanted in their brains and recalled quickly.
However, unlike my older two children, Melia wasn’t retaining her multiplication facts quickly and easily. She would seem to have them down one day, and the next day draw a complete blank when faced with a page of multiplication problems. It was maddening.
And then I remembered a little story my mom used to tell me from her school days…
8 times 8 fell on the floor, and when they got up, they were 64.
It was a story. A rhyme that painted a visual picture. That was precisely what my little dramatic, story-telling child needed.
In fact, it’s exactly what my next child needed as well. Frankly, I think every child (and even some of us adults) can benefit from this type of “story-telling” to learn the times tables.
Here’s a great product on sale at Educents right now that does this very thing!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to take the time to stop all other math and focus on the times tables. You need your child to have these down pat. From there, the gate to upper level math swings wide open!
Times Tales is on sale at Educents right now for only $19.99. You can use it with any age because it is a story that helps your child to visualize the facts and ultimately recall them quickly and easily.
Here is everything that is included in the Times Tales package. Click here to learn more >>
Once your child has their multiplication facts down, you can go back to your usual lessons, and I am certain you will see a difference in their work. I certainly did!
I also want to stress that I do believe children need to have an understanding of what multiplication is all about (i.e. 2 x 3 = 2 sets of 3); however, it has been my experience that understanding this is not enough to help them retain math facts. My older two children didn’t need any extras to help them learn their facts, but my next two children did. They were different personalities and they needed these facts to take on a life of their own and become more than flat numbers on a page.
I’d love to hear your experiences with teaching the times tables and if you have tried stories to help your children learn them! And don’t forget to check out Educents for Times Tales and other great homeschooling deals!