Times Tables Support

There are loosely 3 stages of becoming fluent in a times table. Below is an explanation and suggestions for helping at home:

Understanding

This will all be covered in depth in school. However, a few children may struggle with developing this understanding. Suggested ideas are to help at home:

Counting in groups/lots of

Whilst learning about arrays (which has already happened in Year 2), children will be able to apply that understanding to their counting in the groups their times table is in. For example, if they see:

Then they can make the link that when they count in 5’s, they are counting each row as a group of 5, 4 times.

They should then move, in this example, to counting in 5’s on their fingers, with each finger representing a group of 5 (or a row in the array). It is crucial they understand that the fingers represent the groups they are counting. This can be made even more explicit by modelling it on a number line:

Once children can count on their fingers to 10 lots of 5, they should close both hands and start raising one and two fingers again for 11 and 12 times 5. It is important that children carry on counting and learning times tables to 12 x the times table they are learning.

When children have reached this point in their understanding they should be able to understanding and quickly count in groups of whatever times table they are learning. So, you may ask or have written down for them what is 5×9. They should count in 5’s until they have 9 groups of 5 (nine fingers up). The main error that happens at this stage is some children carry on counting over 9. If they do, check they understand what 9 looks like on their hands when shown as fingers as a few children will still count from 1 or from 5. They need to know by sight. At this point you can also give them 5×9 and they should, because of their deeper understanding, be able to tell you that is the same as 9×5 and count in 5’s (rather than get stuck thinking they have to count in 9’s). At this stage you can also start to give division calculations and missing numbers such as 45÷9= or [ ]x5=45 or [ ]x9=45. Although these are more important that just being ‘extras’, the core support at home that is needed is to be able to quickly count on their fingers in the table they are learning.

Facts

For some children this will come naturally. For others it will seem like the hardest thing ever. It all depends on their ability to recall from their short term memory. All the understanding that has gone before should help children that would usually struggle a little with this being as supported as possible. Some children will be fine just having quick fire q&a sessions calling out ‘what is 9×5’….’45’….what is 5×7….’35’….what is 50÷5….’10’.

Other children will need a more structured approach. This is the suggestion for those children (most of them!):

Some children will need to see them written down, which is fine but the goal is to be able to instantly (within 3-5 seconds) recall all table facts, both multiplying and dividing whether written or orally given. This takes time and there is nothing wrong with your child quickly counting on their fingers. They should just be gently nudged to trying to remember them as facts saying ‘ooo do you remember this one came up before, do you remember what it was?’.

There are also several websites  / apps that can help at this stage as it can become a little dull and tedious (oddly fun for a few though!). We recommend: