"Helping your child learn the times tables is one of the best ways to teach valuable goal setting skills while ensuring their success in math," says Susan Jarema, math consultant and founder of Googol Learning. "Having the basics down early will strongly influence their confidence and ability to learn math in later years. Developing goal setting skills will help them learn how to manage their time and make better decisions."
"Parents today realize that math, problem solving skills and life skills such as goal setting are critical for their success," says Jarema. "However the requirement to know all of the times tables by grade four often comes as a shock for many children (and parents). It can be overwhelming, especially if they have unfortunately fallen behind. Many children have sadly lost an interest in math merely because they did not memorize their times tables."
For many children the most important factor for success is their commitment to learn. "I see now that more parents and teachers are encouraging their children to set their own goals because it teaches them how to take charge of their own learning experience," says John Bishop, Executive Director of Accent on Success and author of Goal Setting for Students. "Learning the times tables is a wonderful goal to start off with. It is specific, measurable and can easily be broken down into manageable parts."
"Working with your child to learn the times tables can be a wonderful opportunity for you to spend time together and assess their number sense," says Jarema. "As a parent, you will have the chance to discover more about your child's learning style and make sure they understand what they are learning."
Googol Learning has set up a Math Fact Challenge (a free online service) to help children commit to learning something new in math. Children set their own goal, receive a participation certificate and join other children from all over the world who also enjoy learning. "Learning math facts does not need to be a chore either," says Jarema. "For families I coach, it becomes an enjoyable experience. We have learned songs and creatively adapted endless games, stories and crafts to make learning math fun."
Here are some tips to help increase the success of your child's goal to learn math:
Make sure the goal is not too difficult to achieve and is an appropriate level of math for their ability.
Break down the main goal into smaller goals (for example, on day one we learn the rules for 0 and 1, day two we learn the 5 and 10 times tables, days three we review, etc.).
Write out daily and weekly goals. Be flexible in adapting your child's goals to their progress. Remember, you want them to succeed.
Use a checklist that children can check off themselves. Start out by finding out what facts they already know. A good way to do this is to have them go through the times table chart and color in the ones they know (i.e. 0X, 1x, 2x, 5x, 10x, 11X).
Start with easier facts to increase their confidence and work your way up to harder ones. Teach them the multiplication patterns like 10x and 11x. Show them the reverse rule (i.e., 3x4=4x3) - then they only have half as many facts to memorize!
Try to find creative ways to practice (card games, dice games, music). Involve your child as much as possible in creating math activities and games to practice.
For really tough facts, try making up a funny story with words that rhyme with the answer to help your child visualize it.
Have an incentive for completing the goal (for example surprise Grandpa, a special dinner, a celebration cake, a certificate).
Get the whole family involved! Each child can have a different goal. Even Mom and Dad can pick something to learn as well.
Make your first math challenge rewarding to encourage further goal setting activities. Praise your child and celebrate your child's achievement.
Show your enthusiasm and willingness to work together to achieve the math goal. This is the start of developing life long learning skills.