Are times-tables important?
We probably all remember having to learn our times-tables as kids and most likely have forgotten a lot of them by now. You will have your own feelings toward them- whether you loved them or hated them, as will your kids! But do you think they are important? As with many things we learn in school, we sometimes fail to see the relevance to our real lives but we really do rely on table facts far more than we realise. In school, the tables are important. So much so that the government introduced the mandatory multiplication check in Year 4 back last year. Times tables are viewed as an essential building block in maths, underpinning a whole host of other mathematical skills. So in a nutshell, yes they are important and a good grasp will benefit your child all the way up to their GCSEs.
How does times-tables help with other maths?
So many other areas of maths rely on solid table facts, the government state it is a skill which is “essential for future success in mathematics”. Fractions, percentages, ratio, more complex calculations like long multiplication & long division, converting units of measures, telling the time are just some mathematical skills that require use of table facts. It honestly underpins so many other math areas. As a teacher and tutor, it is so much easier to teach other skills when a child is fluent with their tables or has strategies to find an answer to a multiplication and they can be really held back if they haven’t got a good grasp of them.
Take a look at how much of the last Arithmetic paper 2022 came from this area, a whopping 47.5%!
Knowing times tables increases a child’s confidence too. When they can become fluent and recall facts, it improves their self belief with their grasp of number properties.
How do the times- tables link to real life?
Anytime we want to count a large number, we rely on our table facts! Think of a big party, a wedding or being in a restaurant. If each table seats 6 people and there are 15 tables you will be using your times tables to calculate how many people can fit. When going on holiday for a week, you might be calculating 7 lots of something! If you purchase more than one of anything, you will use your tables. We use our times-tables to read a clock, to budget, to help us when shopping. A builder will use times tables when calculating area or how many bricks they need for a wall. We are simply using these facts all of the time without even realising.
How can my child improve their times-table knowledge?
Quite simply: practice makes perfect! In my recent class, I quizzed the kids that were topping the leader-board for TT Rockstars and asked them to share why they were so good at their tables. Every, single, one of them said they practiced regularly- without exception. There isn’t just one way to learn table facts so I have found the key is to exploring different ways and then sticking to the way that works for your child. Are they visual? Do they like to feel the objects? Do they learn through movement? Through song? Through drawing? They should try multiple ways, don’t just buy a poster and stick it on the wall, these tend to blend into the background. Games are a great way to engage your child. The more exposure they have to table facts, the more they will retain what they have learned.
The internet is flooded with times-table resources. If your child likes songs, then YouTube is a great place to find lots of modern recognisable songs that have been creatively used to teach tables. I have also created some free resources. I have a free tutorial that runs through some of my favourite tricks and strategies for different tables– kids love a shortcut and a “trick”! I also have some free resources to help writing down and remembering new table facts which comes with a tutorial on how to use it
Finally, check out my review on TT Rockstars Vs Hit The Button Lots of kids absolutely love TT Rockstars, but for those who haven’t got fluent enough yet, it can be off-putting and intimidating. I always recommend Hit The Button for these kids. It works every single time. Firstly, it is just 1 minute games, secondly there are multiple choices and you can choose one table fact at a time and then increase difficulty. Check out my review on how I use each excellent times-table tool.