If you are a teacher or a parent trying to figure out a better way to learn multiplication tables in Kenya- This is for you.
I say better because if you are a millennial Kenyan, you know how we were taught multiplication tables through war and fear. I remember living, breathing and dreaming the damn table the entire fourth class out of fear of being caned.
But we can do better with our kids, and not just because corporal punishment and fear-inducing tactics are illegal now.
The methods I have here are gentle and, most of all, effective. Our daughter’s teacher showed us the way, and the rest came from my own research over the years. All I can say is they work, but you have to be patient because Rome wasn’t built in a day.
1. Explain Multiplication
Lift your hand if you knew why you were memorizing that times table. Like I’ve said before, forcing formulas down a kid’s throat is why they hate mathematics. Speaking of which, here are ways to help your child improve in math. Check it out.
The first step, therefore, is to explain what multiplication is and why it’s important.
Multiplication is simply repeated addition. By the time they learn multiplication, I assume they are already well-versed with addition, subtraction and rote counting.
In other words, 5×4 is simply 5+5+5+5. You can demonstrate this with toys, coins or whatever else you have on hand, which brings us to the WHY.
Because it’s faster to multiply higher numbers than to add them. This will make it easy for you to calculate money, count change, and plan how much you need to buy and so on.
The COMMUTATIVE property
The last thing you need to explain is that, like addition, the answer to multiplication doesn’t change if you switch the number order. 8×2 is the same as 2×8.
Why is this important?
Because that means they only need to know half the table. If they know 2×8, they already know 8×2, and that frees up a whole lot of fear.
PS: You can download the multiplication table here.
2. Familiarize Them With the Times Table
The second step in teaching times tables is to introduce and familiarize the students with the table. You know how kids learn to talk with time because they hear words every day from their family? Itâ€™s the same concept.
Introduce them to the times table, put it in front of their eyes, and study it daily. There is no shortcut. Here’s the most recommended route, which I support;
Draw/Write the Multiplication Table
Don’t print the table and hand printouts to students. Draw the table from scratch with them. Show them how to do it and fill it together. I suggest using different colored chalk for every row and column just to make it interesting. They will then draw the table again in their math book. If they are lucky, most exercise books have the times table on the back.
Recite the Table Repeatedly
Reciting feels like a waste of time in the beginning, but itâ€™s not. When you say something loudly over and over again, it registers in the conscious brain without you noticing. This is the premise behind affirmations.
On days 1-3, they will simply recite the table as is and maybe do it backward as well.
Every day from there, take a number and have them recite that fact only. The following day you form pairs and have the partners recite a whole multiplication fact to each other. This fosters competitiveness and accountability.
Skip counting is also very effective when learning a single multiplication fact. Start with a simple fact like 2, 4, 6,8,10 before going to higher numbers like 7, 14, 21, 28, 35.
3. Use Simplification Tactics
Now, despite your best effort, most kids cannot master the entire times table-it’s a lot. But the point of learning the multiplication table is to do simple multiplications, right?
That’s where teaching times strategies will save the day. I recommend teaching them in the order listed for better grasp.
Start With Easy Facts
The best way to memorize times tables is to tackle it one fact at a time, starting with the easiest. These will be 0, 1, 2, 5 and 10.
- If you multiply anything by 0, it becomes zero. Example, 3×0=0
- If you multiply anything with 1, nothing changes. For example, 3×1=3
- If you multiply anything by 2, it doubles. It’s like adding 3+3.
- All multiples of 5 end with 5 (when multiplied by an odd number) or 0 (when multiplied by an even number.) I like to teach this with skip counting the entire 5 times table.
- Finally, if you multiply anything by 10, it just adds a zero at the end. That is, 5×10=50
The 9 multiplication table is also pretty easy to master. 9×1=9. After that, the first letter of the answer is 1, and it increases by one as you go down to 9×10. The second digit, on the other hand, decreases by one digit from 8 until it reaches zero when you get to 90. Then they start again from there.
Throw in a Multiplication Trick
This trick works for numbers 6-10, and it uses your fingers. First, assign the fingers on each hand numbers 6-10, starting with the pinkie as shown in this image.
Now choose a multiplication you want to perform, for example 7×8,
Align those digits and draw an imaginary line above them. The fingers over that line are ones, and the ones below are tens. In this case, we have five fingers below digits 7 and 8, so we put 5 as our tens, as shown below.
Then, we have 3 digits on the left hand and 2 on the right. Multiply these, 3×2=6. That will be our ones.
So, 7X8= 56.
Try this with any multiplication with digits 6, 7, 8, and 9.
Kids learn best through games and other fun activities. This should come later when they have mastered a good chunk of the multiplication table, and the idea is to ensure the facts get into the subconscious memory.
My best recommendation is a card game played among groups of 4s. Get a deck of cards and remove joker because it doesn’t have a number on it. Two kids will pull out a random card and then flip it. The person who guesses the correct total of the two numbers multiplied wins.
They also get the two cards. Whoever has the most cards at the end is the winner.
This game gets pretty competitive, especially if there’s a reward for winners, so it’s good for motivation.
Learning Multiplication Table Can Be Easy
Again, there is no shortcut to learning multiplication tables in Kenya or anywhere else. Its a slow and sure process, so don’t fall for those how to learn your times tables in 5 minutes headlines. An easy way to learn tables from 2 to 9 is to tackle each on its own until they master it, and you can use games, quizzes and tricks for that.
From experience, it takes around 2 months at best to learn the times table if you are consistent, sometimes longer. If your child is a slow learner, table of numbers at a time, and they should be done learning the multiplication table in no time.