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Get Ahead Kids® Feature Article
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 5 - September/October 2013

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How Parents Can Help Their Primary School Children Learn Their Tables

By Dr. Joan Brien

In primary school, children tend to learn through their classroom activities and usually are not required to "study" as such.

They do not usually bring their books home so parents often have no idea of what they are learning except when the children have an assignment to do.

Their homework often does not reflect what they are doing at school, because there are commercially produced homework books available now, and many teachers reproduce these for the children.

One thing that you can be sure of is that they are learning their multiplication tables. It is important they know their tables, because all mathematical questions require them.

The best way to check if they know their tables is to ask them to say them to you. Once you feel that they know a particular multiplication table, you should test your child's knowledge by asking them random questions about particular tables.

If they are having trouble understanding the concept, you can say that the "x" sign can be thought of as "lots of"; "groups of" or "times". You can also explain that multiplication tables are a short way of doing addition.

For example, 5 x 6 is the same as saying 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6. It is just a matter of finding a way of explaining it that makes sense to your child. We all learn differently and require different methods of explanation.

Sometimes using "hands on" methods help, because mathematics is very abstract and sometimes children just cannot "see" what you are trying to explain to them.

You can use buttons (or similar) to help them to understand their tables. These could be used to help your child work out the answer to
"4 x 6".

If you explain this means "4 lots of 6" then you would want them to count out 4 lots of 6 buttons and then count all of them to find the answer. If you repeat this for different multiplication tasks, after a while your child will start to understand what is going on.

Try to stay patient! It may seem really easy for you to understand mathematics, but for some children it "just does not make sense". If you can make sure that they know their tables, then you will be helping them in their schoolwork as well, because without knowing our tables, we cannot be successful at mathematics.


  • Multiplication is a short way of adding
  • Students have different learning styles & require different methods of explanation
  • Use hands on practical methods
  • Exercise patience when helping your children

More Information

Dr. Joan Brien
Certified Irlen Diagnostician

Irlen Diagnostic Clinic
Suite 3/136 Nelson St.
Wallsend NSW 2287
P: 02 4955 6904
F: 02 4965 6894


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