Times Tables Games and expert tips for parents

Teach your child that times tables can be fun! These games will also help them make connections- the connections our amazing brain needs to store facts in our memory- useful for the tests!


If you are trying to help a child faced with times tables tests it’s good to know:

Times tables are often learned by rote as a rhyme. Research suggests that times table tests of this rote learning can be the start of maths anxiety, hindering the learning of maths for a lifetime – but we need good mathematicians and here’s the crunch - good mathematicians are often NOT good rote learners!

Research also shows that putting time pressure on a child, for example in a times table test, induces maths anxiety - and from modern brain imagery, we now know that anxiety stops the brain from making new connections.

Educationists disagree about how important it is for a young child to know lots of times tables facts, but all educationists agree that knowing the relationships between different times tables is really helpful. For example if your child knows that five times six is the same as six times five, and that four times four is double four times two, then there are fewer facts to hold in their memory. These relationships are missing from most workbooks, times tables apps, times tables songs and times tables games online.

New learning is lost unless it connects to something you already know.

The tables sum ‘6 x 5’ is abstract. Abstraction makes it much more difficult than you would expect. When your child handles objects, ‘6 x 5’ can be connected to something real. Your child will experience powerful visual images, some of which will always be held in their memory to help with those tables tests. The really helpful relationships between the tables facts will be discovered and revealed in powerful visual form. By using these relationships your child will then be able to rely on a few times tables facts, the ones they find easy to remember, to answer all times tables questions.

A really good way of helping your child with times tables tests is to play times tables games with objects to handle. The visual images are experienced, the relationships are discovered and with no anxiety or time pressure the brain is hardwired to learn. Mistakes - a very normal part of learning - are not important in the context of a game. It’s also much easier to pass on the learning while you’re having fun together!

©Number Chase 2020