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The Easy Game for Mastering ALL Your Times Tables - for Adults

Learning your times tables needn't be anywhere near as hard and time-consuming as most people experience. Not because they're stupid, but because the traditional approach to learning them is!

This is certainly not intended to be an attack on those fine parents and teachers who know no better than to put their young ones through the age-old process. But bear with me and see why I believe it's time we shake this whole thing up!

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


Note 1

With games you have a great opportunity to engage with multiple senses (e.g. sight, sound and touch) to make your learning of the times tables more effective. The learning advantages of this multi-sensory approach however are greatly enhanced when tightly associated with solving multiplication problems of increasing difficulty, provoking the learner to think rather than just develop point and click reflexes to a list of times tables answers.

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 'easy':

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 as relevant for adults as for anyone else but many adults are particularly embarrassed about failing to master the times tables as a child. If they then become parents, this problem can come back to haunt them over and over as their own children require support in this area and it can be difficult for some adults to admit weaknesses like this to their children.

The Easy Game for Mastering ALL Your Times Tables - for Adults

Study Multiplication

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.

Study Ideas

How do we measure multiplication mastery? Is it about memorizing a small grid of times tables answers? If so, would a grid of up to 10x10 really constitute mastery, or would that accolade only apply for those who manage to memorize the answers from a 12x12 times tables? Or perhaps it should be held back for those succeeding up to 20x20 or 100x100?

No! I don't think multiplication mastery is about memorization at all. That would be memorization mastery, but not multiplication mastery. It would be useful for parlour tricks like memorizing shuffled packs of playing cards. But mutiplication is a skill in itself. After all, we didn't master addition by memorizing the answers to a bunch of addition problems did we? If we had, we would likely be able to handle addition problems like 7+8 yet be totally incapable of solving problems like 72+15 in our heads, and would be totally dependent on a pocket calculator for such heady problems.

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.

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