Maths topics this term include division and equivalent fractions and as forecast, children who know their times tables are mostly finding them easy to learn. Learning times tables is something we do at school, but in order to develop automatic response, children also need to practise at home. Those who have put in the extra effort to master tables, have no trouble learning short division and can perform these operations well beyond the requirement for Year 3. Similarly, when asked to express a fraction in its lowest terms, children who know their tables can instantly see the common factor and complete the operations without difficulty.
There are many ways to learn times tables, and children have had the opportunity to share the way they learn best. Some like to write them down, some like to be quizzed, some use flash cards, some use computer games. If children haven’t learned them yet, maybe they should consider a different method. Knowing all of the tables up to 12 x 12 is a great start for Year 4. Children are encouraged to keep a chart of their progress towards this goal. They can generate a times tables chart using Excel and shade the ones they have already learned, to record their achievements and identify targets. They should break the process down into achievable chunks and start immediately. The setting and achievement of goals is an important and transferrable skill too, which is a byproduct of this process, as is the self discipline required to choose this activity over say, watching TV or playing computer games.
Learning times tables in Year 3 is not a guarantee of mathematical success, but children who do not know their tables will be in a class with a great many children who do. Being unable to call up number facts when problem solving, can be a real setback. Often, by the time children have worked out the multiplication or the division, they have forgotten how it related to the problem, and confusion and frustration sets in. Knowing tables gives children important mathematical confidence and puts them in a strong position to advance their mathematical understanding.
This week we will be learning the 8X tables. The first thing to do is identify the ones already known. Next, identify patterns that will help. eg 8 X 6 is double 4 X 6 etc. Easy ones are 1 X 8, 10 X 8 and 11 X 8. We have learned the 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X and 6X, so there aren’t many left to learn. For those who haven’t learned these yet, now is the time to do it. I have explained to the children that we can practise tables at school, I can test them, give them strategies, remind them and encourage them but I cannot tip tables facts into children’s brains. (Technically I can, but it takes up a lot of time, penalises those who already know them, and results in children not wanting to come to school) Children must apply effort to this task. Congratulations to all of those that have.