Mastering Multiplication Tables
Margaret Laffin, 4th grade
2 x 2 = 4, 2 x 3 = 6, 2 x 4 = 8….. So many of us can remember memorizing our multiplication tables. One of the things that make Oak Hill Academy one of the best schools in Monmouth County is that we begin with the conceptual understanding of math facts, but also emphasize memorization of facts when conceptual understanding is not enough. Some students love the challenge and quickly retain and recall the facts. Others have a hard time recalling facts under pressure or when they are presented in a different order. At these times, some parents tend to ask, why bother? We have calculators so readily available now (just pull out your phone!) and is it really worth hassle?
As a 4th grade teacher, my answer is a very firm YES. In the 4th grade, we begin many operations and processes that rely heavily on the ability to recall and manipulate multiplication facts. Early in the year, we teach the concepts of factors and multiples. For students who recall and retrieve their multiplication facts very quickly, these new concepts are a breeze to understand. For students who must look up most of the facts on a multiplication chart, or count multiples on their fingers, it becomes drudgery. If it takes too long to figure out what 4 x 6 is, the thought process gets interrupted and
students forget what they were planning to do with the product. Imagine trying to write out a 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication problem, simplify fractions, or work backward to find the length of a rectangle given the area. None of these tasks are possible when you can’t recall the multiplication facts.
There are things that we do to make it easier for students to master their tables. Here at Oak Hill Academy, we begin by teaching the concrete meaning of the fact. 2 x 3 doesn’t equal 6 because someone just decided it. It equals 6 because 2 groups of 3 apples equal 6 apples. From there, we move on to visual representations of 2 rows of 3. We tie the concrete to the facts so that students can problem solve.
For students who need additional practice, we play multiplication games and also use real and digital flashcards. This year, we are using an online, personalized program that has students practicing at their own pace. Between work, sports and activity commitments, families are very busy outside of school. Try to build a little time in your day to practice the facts. Younger students start with addition and subtraction facts, middle graders practice multiplication facts. Students can quiz themselves or family members while driving between activities, while eating breakfast or before bed. If you need ideas for choosing websites, apps or physical materials to help your child, we are here to help you!
You worked hard to find the best school in New Jersey for your child. Now, let’s work together to help your child reach his or her full potential. Making time for math facts practice makes learning all math concepts smoother.