Every child needs to know their times tables. They're easy to learn with daily practice - but remembering to practice can be tricky!
That's where Talking Times Tables comes in.
We'll phone your child every day and teach them their times tables using a sing-song chant.
Each lesson is pre-recorded and only takes 2-3 minutes to complete.
It's old fashioned...but it works brilliantly!
The trick to memorising times tables is to learn each table as a fast and fluid sing-song chant.
Cut out all of the extra words and learn only the important bits: i.e. the actual numbers.
So instead of droning:
"one. times. eleven. equals. eleven.
two. times. eleven. equals. twenty-two."
"One eleven's eleven.
Two elevens are twenty-two..."
Practise until you can recite a whole times table in around 10 seconds.
Then you can practice the eight hardest tables every day and it only takes one and a half minutes!
Listen to a sample lesson, and you'll quickly understand how children memorise a times table with Talking Times Tables.
Starting from scratch, with 2-3 minute phone calls, 5 times a week, it takes 4 weeks for a child to memorise a times table and learn how access each multiplication sum individually.
Then they can confidently answer questions in class, and practice for the Year 4 multiplication tables check standardised test.
Talking Times Tables is all about consistency and convenience.
Doing something small every day, that doesn't interfere with other things in your life, but has a big impact in the end.
Of course, it helps that kids really enjoy getting our phone calls. It feels like the fast and friendly 'private' lesson is just for them.
It's all pre-recorded - but they don't seem to care!
I say hello, a robot asks for them by name, and they're away!
One lesson follows the next, the worksheets are easy, and they can see how quickly they're making progress.
Honestly, they love it!
And there are no screens to distract their attention!
You may wonder why you'd use a phone when you could use a screen - but the lack of a screen is actually a big bonus here.
Our children are spending more and more time each day staring at a screen, and educational or not, it's far from ideal.
Our kids know that screens offer activities that are far more exciting than times tables (or breakfast, or finding school shoes) and once your child has a tablet in their hands you're going to have to take it off them at some point.
I find it much easier to get everyone out the door if no-one touches an ipad on a school morning!
We can still learn the times tables though - because the good old phone keeps us on track.
If you can receive your daily calls on a landline you'll miss far fewer calls than on your mobile. Especially in the mornings! With a landline your child can take charge, but with your mobile they're relying on you to have switched your phone on / turned it off silent / be within hearing distance when it rings.
Memorising the times tables as a sing-song chant, is an example of 'learning by rote'.
Rote learning gets a bad press these days, because in the past school children were required to learn reams of dates and facts without much focus on applying their knowledge.
But our brains are remarkably good at remembering words set to a rhythm. Think of the nursery rhymes you still remember - even those that made little sense at the time, like "curds and whey" and "pudding and pie".
We can make use of that! It means that sometimes rote learning is the easiest way to memorise something useful - like your times tables!
Schools do a good job of teaching children what multiplication is, so we don't need to worry that our children will never understand what they're learning.
Schools also teach children to apply that knowledge to more complex concepts - like fractions, ratios and percentages - all of which are much easier to understand if they recognise multiples when they see them.
And for that, they need to have memorised their times tables first!
To memorise the tables, you need to make a series of connections in your brain, and then send signals up and down that path so often that your mind no longer gets lost getting from A to B.
This is why it's SO IMPORTANT to practice the times tables correctly! If you ever practice the wrong answers (or stumble over the answers, or take a few guesses to get to the right answer), your brain will start building up paths that you don't want to be there!
The Talking Times Tables programme is paced to build the right connections, in the right order, and then reinforce those connections over and over again until your brain knows where to go next without you having to think about it.
The tables are built up slowly over several days, with lots of repetition each day.
Filling in the worksheets each day helps cement the relationship between the question they see on the paper, and the song they hear in their head.
In this way, learning the times tables feels like not forgetting what you know rather than trying to remember a whole heap of facts from scratch.
(Then the children are prompted to 'sing the answer' to individual sums from within the table, to teach them how to access each answer directly.)
No... but it has enough to do the job, and the simplicity has advantages!
You can apply the rhythm for any question (e.g. six somethings are... rum-ti-tum) to any table.
Which means you can sing any question without having to think about it, and (if you've memorised the table well enough) your brain will automatically come back with the answer.
Plus, you can get faster and faster and faster without losing the beat - which is great for speedy practice (and more fun than you probably think!)
If your child is in Year 4 or below, the Multiplication Tables Check is heading your way.
Every June, all Y4* children in English state schools take this standardised test so that the Department for Education can monitor how successfully the times tables are being taught in schools.
If you want to find out more about it, you'd like your child take a practice test, or even have a bash at the test yourself (!) this is a great place to start.
* Y4 children are aged 8-9 (second year junior in old money.)
Yes you can!
But if you're anything like me, you won't remember to practice every day and you'll find it hard to stick with the slow, steady, progression that makes this kind of learning easy.
You'll go in too fast and too hard and put your child off forever.
Or you'll remember sporadically and your child will have to re-learn the table each time, rather than 'not forget' it.
Or you'll do brilliantly for a couple of months learning the three and four times tables and then something else will demand your attention and times tables will fall by the wayside.
Or your child will have other plans for that 3 minutes of time every day and you'll spend longer battling over whether to learn the tables than actually learning them.
Which is why I set up this programme to do all of the hard work for us!
Learning the times tables doesn't have to be a battle!