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The Fast Way to Learn Your 10s Times Table - for Kids

Learning your times table 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.

Notes

Note 1

These notes are as relevant for kids as for anyone else but it can be especially embarrassing for kids in a classroom setting if they are struggling with the times table as they are inclined to see this as a problem with their own ability to memorize, when the problem is more often that kids should be taught mental multiplication skills rather than be subjected to the agony of memorizing tables of answers.

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

Note 2

The times table is often treated by schools as a grid of number facts that need to memorized, no matter how difficult, painful and time consuming this may be. If schools took the same approach with addition and subtraction however, we would have a grid of standard addition problem answers to memorize and likewise one for subtraction problems.

But addition and subtraction are more readily recognized as number skills, part of a numeracy syllabus. If we can let go of hundreds of years of tradition for one moment and consider how easily mental multiplication could be treated as a skill, we could do away with memorizing the answers to the times table grid altogether. And such a skill could be developed in a fraction of the time, with less pain too.

In recent years, many people have challenged how appropriate it is to attempt to learn the times table up to 12x12. Some prefer to limit the learning objective to 10x10 often citing decimalization as the reason for this, without speaking out the truth which underlies their motivation, being a preference to dumb-down the learning objective as it is then easier to accomplish.

On the other hand, those who value the ability to multiply (typically those who are comfortable themselves and often fail to see the problem through other people's eyes) suggest raising the bar to empower students with skills based on enlarging the times table to cover up to 20x20 or even 100x100. This kind of goal cries out for a skill-based approach, rather than memorization of number facts.

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

Note 3

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

Are you hoping to minimize the amount of time required per lesson, the overall amount of study time needed to complete the process, a shorter number of days, weeks or years, or the total time required to become suitably competent with the times table.

The Fast Way to Learn Your 10s Times Table - for Kids

Study Multiplication

Here is a breakdown of the 10 times table. With the Numba Ninja System, each multiplication problem has a specific key, and this is underlined for each problem here:

10 times table: up to 12 x 10

0 x 10 = 0
1 x 10 = 10
2 x 10 = 20
3 x 10 = 30
4 x 10 = 40
5 x 10 = 50
6 x 10 = 60
7 x 10 = 70
8 x 10 = 80
9 x 10 = 90
10 x 10 = 100
11 x 10 = 110
12 x 10 = 120

Study Ideas

When learning the times table 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 table 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.

In the Numba Ninja System of mental multiplication, for the 10 times table, when 10 is chosen as the key, the Snail is the picture story that is used.

When 10 is not the chosen key however, other picture stories are used as appropriate.

Teaching Ideas