Multiplication: How to help children remember

Progress in maths relies on fluent recall of the times tables. Not having to work out sums frees time for students to work through more complex mathematical processes.

Not only that, the department for education have announced plans for national multiplication tests for all year 4 students by 2020. 25questions will be given with just 6 seconds allowed per answer, relying on instant recall.

Memorising the tables can be a challenge, though there are ways to help children learn them more easily. Use all or a number of methods below.

Make sure they know the ‘easy’ ones

2, 5 and 10 multiplications are usually the easiest for children to remember. Make sure they know these, and it will help them spot patterns in some of the harder ones.

Memorable patterns

Children will usually remember patterns within times tables as they are more tangible than the numerical answer alone. Here are some useful ones:

9 times tables add up to 9 and go down one by one as you move up the tables. 9, 18, 27, 36 etc

3 and 6 times – the 3 times tables’ answers add up to 3, 6 and 9 in ascending order, 6 add up in order 6, 3, 9.

5- and 10-times tables end in 0 or 5, and so on.

11s are double numbers, increasing by 1 each time.

The 7 seven times tables can be harder as there are no obvious patterns to memorise. There is one in the following grid however, which children can use until they are fluent in them.

7          4          1

8          5          2

9          6          3

The second digit of the answer is found in each subsequent answer, moving across the grid horizontally. The number of the first digit goes up if the column answer increases. So:

1 x 7 = 7           2 x 7 = 14         3 x 7 = 21

4 x 7 = 28         5 x 7 = 35         6 x 7 = 42

7 x 7 = 49         8 x 7 = 56         9 x 7 = 63

Remainder: 10 x 7 = 70, 11 x 7 = 77, 12 x 7 = 84

For the 8 times tables remind children it’s simply the 4 times tables (once they know these) doubled.

Songs or rhymes

Youtube is a great resource for visual examples of songs, covering all of the numbers up to 12. Like patterns, a tune will help associate and jog memory.

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Repetition is crucial to committing the tables to memory. Cover the times tables every week.