“What can my child do to improve their maths?”
This is a question I’m frequently asked and it’s a simple one to answer: learn their times tables.
When multiplying numbers, children often count in multiples of the times table; for example, if they need to work out 7 x 8, they count 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, using their fingers to help. This can work (although it’s surprising how often they get the wrong answer) but it’s time-consuming and, once they get to GCSE, knowing the times tables is the first, easy part of a far more complicated problem.
Children should also be able to recognise the relationship between 7, 8 and 56, and 70, 80 and 560, to speed up division and problem-solving.
One simple way to practise times tables is to get a pack of playing cards, turn over two cards, and multiply them together. The answer should be spontaneous, no thought, no working out. If particular times tables are causing a problem, attention can be focussed on these.
Knowing the times tables is an effective way to improve both speed and accuracy, and to save the brain cells for the trickier, problem-solving aspects of a maths question.
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