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Basic math facts, like spelling, require rote memorization skills and lots of repetition. Teachers spend a lot of time explaining how math works along with problem solving skills. They try to fit in fun math drills so the students can practice their math facts, but for many, this is not enough. Kids need to practice basic facts at home, especially multiplication facts.

Multiplication is usually introduced in the third grade. In the fourth grade, more time is spent in class acquiring the “times tables.” There are many bulletin boards that brag the success of individuals. Some kids, however, never seem to get past the 2’s or 3’s. For them, home intervention is a necessity if they are to learn these facts at all. By the fifth grade, students are expected to know their multiplication facts and apply them to higher mathematical concepts.

Parents can play a big part in helping their children become successful in math. With just a little bit of time each night, students will grow more confident as their knowledge is strengthened. Approached in a systematic way, students will learn how to associate the correct answers to the problems. All that is needed are flash cards, patience, a winning smile, and an open heart!

1. Everybody knows the 0’s and the 1’s so don’t spend any time reviewing these.
2. Review the 2 times table. Show the student that 2 times any number is like adding that number to itself. Practice skip counting by 2’s, then use the flash cards for drill.
3. Next, skip up to the 5’s and 10’s. The reason for this is to BUILD UPON SUCCESS. Teachers have known this for years: help the child become successful to increase motivation for learning more. Do the same thing as the 2’s tables by skip counting followed by flash card drills. Make sure to give smiles, hugs, and lots of “high fives” when students do well.
4. The 9’s are very easy as well. Get a piece of paper and write the numbers 0 through 9 in a column going down the sheet. To the right of those numbers do the same thing except start at the bottom and go up. The first number will be 09 (or 9) which is the answer to 9 x 1. The next number will be 18, or the answer to 9 x 2. 27 is next, the answer to 9 x 3, and so on down the list. This is one strategy the student will appreciate. Practice skip counting, then use the flash cards.
5. The 3’s and the 4’s are next. Because they are relatively small numbers, they’re not too bad. Write down the numbers by skip counting first, and repeat them aloud over and over. Tackle the 3’s before the 4’s if the student confuses the numbers too much. Practice with the flash cards.
6. By now, the student should be well versed in the practiced times tables. The 6’s, 7’s, and 8’s are left, and they are usually the hardest ones. However, they should already know these tables from 0 to 5 and 9 to 10. All that’s left are:
6 x 6 7 x 6 8 x 6
6 x 7 7 x 7 8 x 7
6 x 8 7 x 8 8 x 8
Students should already know the other facts, so there’s only 9 more left to learn! These can be practiced and practiced until committed to memory. Just about anybody can learn 9 math facts!

The important thing to remember is to build upon success. If you need to spend a little more extra time on one level than the others, spend the extra time. What’s important is learning the skill, and feeling safe to make mistakes while learning. So much math is built upon multiplication later on, and it’s a shame when students still don’t know their facts by the 7th grade. What better way is there to strengthen a bond between a child and a parents than by teaching an important skill?