7 Tips for teaching Multiplication
I can remember being in class, and it was time to play "Around the World" with multiplication. I was super great at that game, loved it, and dominated the classroom.
My competitive side was very evident at a young age - but you don't get that competition in the homeschool arena.
That's good, and it's bad.
It's good that we don't have that competition in homeschool because it's not healthy for Math. Let's face it. There are few jobs in the world now adays that even require you to know math - just using a calculator. And those that do require math (like piloting as my brother does on levels beyond my comprehension!), will get the speed with time and maturity.
So, what I'm saying is this: competition is great and is important for kids to learn and handle. But not with Math. Why should a child feel discouraged or let down by something most don't really like anyway?
Now, here's how I think that math competion IS important in homeschool. Competition against oneself. To teach your child how to do better than the time before, to practice in areas that are lacking, and for motivation to make something fun.
Here's some ways that we make Math competitive and fun for Nathan who is homeschooled for third grade this year:
- Timed Worksheets: I don't make Nathan do a lot of repetive practice because he just doesn't need it. However, he does get some review practice every once and a while; and he gets so bored with adding some colums of numbers, dividing, or multiplying. But, he does love to race. So, if I time him to see how fast he goes - or if I give him a certain amount of time to get it done, he's rarin' to go. However, if your child makes too many mistakes or is too pressured by the timer, then this option is NOT for you!
- Individual Multiplication Races: Every child has those few times tables that are more difficult, and I think we'll all agree on the importance of knowing the multiplication tables and the advantage of having them memorized. So, I make a list of 15 or so multiplication problems - a couple that Nathan has difficulty remembering, some that takes a little longer to get (because I can tell he's just adding in his head!), and some that are so easy they don't require thought. Then I tell him how much time he has and start the countdown. I say "7x5" and he has to say "35" or "pass" to get to the next one. If he gets them all done (including going back to the ones that he said "pass"), then he gets a reward. It's usually something simple like a small cup of apple juice or a peice of gum, etc.
- Flash Card Races: this can be done in the manner I just descirbed, or you can do it the "Bankston" way. I mark places on the floor (with a peice of paper or tape, etc.). Then I show the flash cards. As he calls out each answer, he moves to the next space. If he gets around all the spaces before time runs out, he gets a small prize.
- Altering Recipes: Double of half a recipe for great fraction practice. You can also use simple recipes with all whole numbers so that it's easier for the young children. Get multiplication practice by asking your child to take a recipe that feeds 4 and make it into a recipe that will feed 24.
- Multiplication Songs: Nathan is an auditory learner, so the multiplication songs CD is a fun, easy reinforcement for him. We don't do it everyday - just in rotation with all these other things
- Math board games: This is a great option to join in as a parent or for just the kids. We have a game now that has four different levels. That way, when the math gets too easy, we can advance to a new game and not lose interest. Nathan has mastered this game, but when he plays with his younger brother, he has to do his own math and check his brother's too.
- Online games or software: If your kids are like mine, they enjoy playing games and they enjoy being online. There are math games available from software companies like "Knowledge Adventure" that makes the "JumpStart" products (which we have used and loved) and free online games.
Don't forget: For the races, allow plenty of time so your child has a chance. Give them just a little less time than they normally need so that they just have to improve a tiny bit in order to win. Success breeds more success - and fun improves learning.
If you'd like more information on helping your child with Math, here's some resources for you:
- Math Homework Help at the Homeschooling Library
- Multiplication Songs at the Homeschooling Library
- Math in cooking: Cooking with Kids System in a Box or www.kidsrecipeclub.com
- Multiplication board games: visit your local school supply store
- Online multiplication practice: www.multiplication.com
Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: Homeschool Cooking in a Box and the Homeschool Cookbook. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit https://www.homeschoolcookbook.com
Copyright 2004, Abundant Learning Publications. All Rights Reserved.
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