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The Easiest Way for Studying ALL my Times Tables

The experience of facing the times tables is something most people recall vividly. For some, it fills with dread. For most it brings back memories of struggling with lists of answers, some harder than others. And for very few are those memories pleasant. Yet we far less easily recall the struggles we went through learning some of our other childhood skills.

I am going to suggest that perhaps this is because, with our times tables, we went about learning them in an unnecessarily painful and difficult way.

As you read this article, bear in mind there is a very subtle difference between memorizing and remembering tables.

Notes

Note 1

When learning the times tables by rote, plain parrot-fashion repetition only taps into the oral experience. This is far less powerful for most people than things that we experience visually. For this reason, pictures can often be used to support rote-learning especially if the mind is able to recall a strong visual image that clearly hooks the multiplication problem to the answer.

Also, be aware of why many people consider the times tables to be limited to 12 x 12 when, in this decimal era the number 12 seems a rather strange limit. But this goes back to the days of counting in dozens (e.g. 12 inches in a foot) when an English shilling was worth 12 pennies.

Taking these ideas into account may lead to different conclusions when considering the times tables for children or specifically boys and girls.

Note 2

To be clear, you need to define what you mean by 'easiest':

For example, it's surely important to take account of as many as possible of the following:

Are you desiring something that's easy to do, makes those times tables answers easy to remember and easy to recall, easy to apply in other areas of mathematics and in real life situations, easy to retain over the longer term, or simply an approach that's best matched to your personal learning style to make the learning process easy?

See here for more information about how to take this into account kids, teens and adults.

Note 3

These notes are just as relevant to all kinds of learner, both male and female, from children and teens to adults of all ages as numeracy is an issue which many people struggle with well beyond their school years. The application may vary however depending on which group you fit into, just like it may vary according to each person's preferred learning style and specific strengths.

Getting to grips with the times tables is a fundamental part of one's numeracy, which is just as important in school, college or university as it is in latter days when you consider how it affects your employability and competence at managing ones personal finances and building wealth.

The Easiest Way for Studying ALL my Times Tables

Study Multiplication

When you take the approach of developing mental multiplication skill to address the need for solving problems listed in the times tables, it is really helpful to develop a strategy of identifying the fastest (normally the easiest) route to solving any particular multiplication problem. By doing this at outset, the steps required to arrive at the final answer to the multiplication problem are much easier to handle, and can often be run through at a speed similar to that with which rote-learning students are able to recall the answers from memory.

With practice, the speed difference can be so negligible that any observer may think that you are recalling answers from memory, and certainly with greater confidence in the accuracy of answers.

One of the problems with most method-based approaches to the times tables is that each method (e.g. the 'fingers' method for the nines) is that each individual method solves part of the overall table of multiplication problems, but that the rest of the table needs to be covered by other individual methods. A fully comprehensive approach, however, addresses the times tables entirely, without leaving any gaps.

Study Ideas

When rote-learning the times tables by rote, parrot-fashion repetition can be greatly supported by the use of rhyme or song. This helps the learner tap into their musical/rhythmic intelligence rather than depending entirely on the verbal/linguistic aspects of repetition. To experience this, try memorizing a news story word for word and then compare how difficult that is with learning the words to a nursery rhyme or song. The rhythm itself, and the rhyming words, and the tune of a song all play their part in carrying you through the recall process.

Even with the use of rhyme and song, however, the question remains as to whether rote learning of the times tables is really the best way forward, compared with developing the skill of effective mental multiplication.

Teaching Ideas