How to Teach My Child Multiplication

Children typically learn multiplication in third grade, but you may want to teach your child multiplication a little early. Some kids are ready for multiplication in second grade or the summer before third. Here are some tips for teaching them.

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At-Home Tips for Teaching Multiplication

Demonstrate It

Your child will need to understand the concept behind multiplication before he learns the multiplication table or facts. Manipulatives are one of the best ways to demonstrate. Equate the times symbols (x or a dot) with groups of. Using an egg carton and beans, put three beans in each of four cups in the carton - three groups of four. Count the total number of beans, and you have 3 x 4 = 12. Repeat the process, this time with four groups of three beans, which will give you 4 x 3 = 12. Repeat with other quantities of beans (up to ten) until your child understands the principle of multiplication.

Simplify It

You can just imagine your child's first reaction to the multiplication table, an outraged or frustrated 'You mean I gotta learn 100 things?' Because learning 100 math facts may seem intimidating to some children, show your child that it's less work than it appears to be. Begin by teaching the zero and one times tables. These are the easiest to learn and, after your child learns them, you to reduce the 100 math facts to only 64.

Next, show him or her that, just like with the egg carton example, the order of the numbers doesn't matter (e.g., 3 x 4 = 12 and 4 x 3 = 12). As a result, you've just cut those 64 multiplication facts down to 32.

Patterns for the two, four, five, nine and ten times tables can simplify the concepts. Sometimes the pattern seems like it'll slow your child down, but as you use and state a pattern repeatedly, your child will gradually be able to quickly recall the fact. The patterns are:

To multiply by two, add the number to itself (e.g., 2x3 = 3+3 = 6).

To multiply by four, add the number to itself twice and add the sums (e.g., 4 x 3 = (3 + 3) + (3 + 3) = 6 + 6 = 12).

To multiply by ten, put a zero after the number (e.g., 10 x 3 = 30).

Multiplying by five is the same as counting by fives (e.g., 5 x 3 = 5, 10, 15 = 15).

To multiply by nine, multiply the number by ten and subtract the number (e.g., 9 x 3 = (10 x 3) - 3 = 30 - 3 = 27).

Now, your child only has ten facts left to learn.

Read about It

You can purchase or borrow from the library a number of fun books about multiplication. Some examples are:

  • Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander - This book introduces the concept of multiplication and shows how it applies to real life.
  • All Aboard Math Reader 3 - Breakfast at Danny's Diner: A Book about Multiplication by Judith Stamper - A fun to read story that is full of story problems and their solutions.
  • Barrington and the Math Princess by Roxanne Eckenrode - A story to help learn the multiplication table using clever, silly mnemonics.

Sing and Rhyme about It

You can find a number of songs and CD albums to play and sing along to. Some must be purchased and some are online. A couple of CDs that are popular are:

  • Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer
  • Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication by Disney with actors Bob Dorough and Grady Tate

Of course you and your child can make up songs, too! If coming up with a melody isn't something you care to do, then just write the lyrics. Lots of rhythm makes them more memorable.

Practice It

Although you may have incorporated practice into your reading, singing and rhyming, there is still always room for two good, old-fashioned ways to practice multiplication facts: worksheets and flash cards. You can find dozens of free worksheets and flashcards online. Although you can always buy flash cards, it might be more enjoyable, as well as a learning project, for your child to make his or her own flash cards. (Just be sure that he or she doesn't sneak the answer in as part of a picture!)

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

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