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Why learn Times Tables?

Tuesday, Apr. 26th 2011 5:40 AM

Is it important to that my child knows their Times Tables in this day and age? After all, they have calculators, computers, iPads and all manner of portable devices to do it for them.

Is it important that you know how to breathe properly? Of course it is.

In terms of Mathematical literacy, fast accurate knowledge of the Times Tables is imperative for your child to be able to function with higher order Mathematical tasks and Mathematical thinking. They are vital building blocks for every student. No matter what age or stage.

Sure, they can do most Maths tasks without knowing the Times Tables but it will take them three and sometimes four times as long to complete the tasks. By this time, most of the class has moved on. The result is not so much the incorrect answers, or the extended time taken to complete the tasks, it is the damage done to the student’s confidence and self-esteem that is the most damaging. Their internalising of themselves as ‘Mathematical failures’. They often then feel, not only ‘dumb at Maths’ but incompetent in many other areas as well. They often give up and stop trying completely.

I don’t know how many parents, when interviewed by us, will complain about their own poor Maths skills, often lamenting their own lack of knowledge of the Tables. “We weren’t taught them at school”, they’ll say.

On the contrary, many of our clients will tell us that it is their rote, immediate knowledge of the Times Tables that enables them to complete computation skills easily and quickly, particularly in ‘real life’ situations. Shopping, invoicing, at tax time and myriad other day-to-day applications for applying these vital skills.

If there is one area to support your child in their skills and knowledge in becoming Mathematically literate it is encouraging them to acquire fast, accurate knowledge of the Times Tables.

Play games with them. Ask them quick questions that require quick answers ( at an appropriate level of course ). Buy them a cd of the Times Tables and play it in the car ( I know it might drive you a bit mad but hey, have you heard some of the nonsense that passes for commercial radio these days? ). Do what you have to do imbed this vital skill into your child’s neurology. Like catching and throwing a ball, repetition, repetition, repetition.

Your child ( and their teachers ) will be forever grateful to you.