There is a rather painless way to teach multiplication. It can be done for the most part in one summer at home or using similar methods in a classroom. It involves teaching one group of facts at a time till thoroughly mastered, then moving in developmental order to the next level, stopping to be sure each previously taught skill can be combined with success. Multiplying can be enjoyable, and should give math a good reputation among students.
Teaching Multiplication Using Developmental Order
Parents may need to help their children learn to multiply over the summer so it can be done during that time-frame. It can be stress-free if learned one table at a time, then gently add practice mixing a newly mastered table with one already mastered.
Since counting by 5 and 10 is often mastered in the early years, this is a great place to start with multiplication. Let students multiply first only by the 5s, then the 10s, then start mixing the two. The ease with which students can master this gives them confidence needed to move on. Move slowly, allowing for success as the student progresses through these phases.
Importance of Teaching Students to Multiply by One
Teach multiplication by one as a unit to itself. Multiplying by one can be taught as “one of them” so 1 x 4 is “one of those 4s”.
Resist the temptation to combine it with multiplying by zero as some curriculum materials do. A rule of thumb is that binary items like x 1 and x 0 are best learned in isolation, never together till each is thoroughly mastered individually.
Develop Several Strategies for Multiplying by Two
There are a number of strategies to use in multiplying by two:
- Make sure the doubles in addition are mastered first. It is worth taking the time to conquer one thing before moving to another. This lets students learn with success instead of stress.
- Then show how the twos are just the doubles said another way. Play oral games, even adding visuals like cards or posters as desired, giving a doubles fact, then saying the multiplication fact that goes with it. (This can also be made into a center where students match two colors of cards – addition by doubles cards of one color and multiplication by twos of another color.)
- The next step would be to have fun and celebrate success while multiplying verbally, visually, combining learning modalities (multisensory learning) and then on paper. First do only the twos, then combine with known tables like the ones, fives or tens.
Putting Multiplication by Zero Clearly in Memory
This can be taught by saying “Pull that nut right off that tree!” At this point a parent or teacher can show how they just pull the zero down, playing like it’s a great big nut as they write it down as an answer.
Selling Students on Memorizing Their Multiplication Facts
Place emphasis on getting to the memorization stage of learning rather than being stuck in the introductory phase. Using rhymes can help.
It’s also worth spending time developing the concept that once a fact is mastered, the work is reduced amazingly. This provides needed insight for giving that extra push to remember rather than always relying on a much slower crutch. Clarify how a crutch is used only till the bone is mended.
Tips on Starting From Success to Teach a New Times Table
In order to start from success, show students how much they already know. For example, in the 3s, they may already know x 0, 1, 2, 5, 10, and 11. That’s halfway there! This only leaves x 3,4,6,7,8, and 9. This can make the goal seem more achievable. This is vital, since many children don’t master the facts because they believe it’s just too hard or too much to conquer, so frame the task in achievable units.
Do the same with each table after that. Grab moments in the car or in the classroom lines, to skip count. It can even be recreational, reinforcing the idea that math can be fun, to count by known times tables. This also keeps it firmly anchored in the long term memory and mixes success with the courage required to go on to new material.
Teach the nines early on, perhaps after the threes and fours to provide a cognitive as well as emotional break in the middle. Then for the sevens and eights, remind the students that there are only three facts left to learn. Show on a multiplication chart how they know all the rest. This leaves only 7 x 7, 8 x 8, and 7 x 8. These can be learned as separate facts using multiplication rhymes.
Teach kids to multiply using developmental order, separating the teaching of ones and zeros, selling students on the value of memorizing facts, and using success to motivate.