The Importance of Memorizing the Times Tables (plus freebie)

One of the hardest math concepts is learning multiplication is an essential part of a student’s elementary education. It’s the foundation for more complex math student encounter as they move through school.

Why memorize the times tables?

Just like everything in life to do more complex task like walking before running learning
multiplication and memorizing the times tables are building blocks for other math topics taught in school - higher learning such as division, long multiplication, fractions and algebra. Students who have not memorized the times tables will find these levels of math much more difficult than they need to be. Students who have not mastered their tables will very often fall behind in math and begin to lose confidence.  Multiplication is used in our daily lives. You might need it when doubling a recipe, determining a discount at a store or figuring out our expected arrival time when traveling.


Calculators are great tools for figuring out complex calculations. However, using a calculator takes much longer for simple facts and can result in keying errors. Students who rely on calculators are also weak in estimating skills and are unaware of wrong answers that occur from keying mistakes. In Colorado and on most high stakes tests calculators are not allowed in many tests and admission exams—they have to use paper and don’t have the time to work them the using strategies.

Understanding or memorization or both?

It's not one or the other, it's both. A student must understand and memorize the facts. Early on, a student needs to understand what multiplication is - the grouping of sets, repeated addition, and a faster way of adding. Show them this with an assortment of manipulatives, by skip counting and by using arrays. As they master the basics, expand upon this concept by creating interesting word problems. Eventually comes a time to highlight the importance of rapid recall. Students need to know that they should recall the answer instantaneously. This is why quizzing and practicing need to happen at the same time.

Have fun together in this process. One of my favorite ways is to use games!  It's always a good review and opportunity for the whole family to exercise their brains.

How Parents Can Help Their Child Memorize the Times Tables

1. Make sure there is understanding.
2. Explain why it is important.
3. Demonstrate what fast recall is.
4. Be interested in math yourself.
5. Find out what facts they already know.
6. Involve your child in the goal setting process.
7. Focus primarily on the facts they need to learn.
8. Use a chart to monitor progress.
9. Provide encouragement along the way.
10. Spend quality time together practicing.
11. Acknowledge their success.
12. And most importantly: Have fun!


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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