Teaching Dyscalculic Students Series
by Jan Thomson-Long
Do you really need to know your tables?
“The world looks like a multiplication-table, or a mathematical equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
There can be no doubt that instantly being able to recall the fact that you need confidently and accurately is really useful and time saving. However, what I’d argue is more important is that the concept is understood rather than just learning by rote. Once the concept is understood the fact that is required can easily be derived by just three tables, the twos, fives, and tens. It’s handy if you know the threes as well but again that’s only to save time.
So, if you need to know what 7 x 6 is and you know your 2s and 5s. You just add together the answers of 2 x 6 (12) and 5 x 6 (30) making 42.
There are some tricks for the more difficult to remember tables such as 7 x 8, which some remember by 5,6 is 7 x 8, in other words the answer to 7 x 8 is 56.
Many children enjoy the fingers trick for the 9 x table, to see it check out this youtube video https://youtu.be/jEIeFV4oMp4
There are other ways to check if you’re right, for example every multiple of 5 ends in a 5 or a zero. If you multiply 5 by an odd number then it will end in a 5. If you multiply by an even number then it ends in a zero. Also as 5 is half of 10, you can multiply by 10 and half the answer. So, 8 x 10 is 80 then halved so 40.
So if you’re the sort of person who struggles to rote learn then do not dispair, so long as you understand the concept that multiplication is repeated addition of the same number however many times required and can make that number up using the 2s, 5s and 10s you will be able to find the correct answer.