It’s Sunday night, and The Tween and I were having a long and involved chat about STUFF, as you do when you’re a Tween, it’s Sunday night and you know that the longer you keep mum talking, the later your bedtime is.
We were talking about maths, which is one of my favourite subjects and one of her least favourite ones, and specifically about learning times tables.
“I’m good with all times tables except my sevens and nines,” she announced. “I can’t get the hang of them. I’ve got a mental block. I’ve got a gap in my brain where they should be. My brain simply can’t do them.”
“I bet you can learn your 7 times tables in less than half an hour,” I said. She still insisted there was no way she could do it. Mental block. Lack of brain ability.
“Look, I bet you a quid you can. You do it, I pay you a pound. If you can’t, you pay me. I bet you already know most of it.” Bribery is a common parenting technique in this house, because it works well and involves less arguing. Don’t judge me.
Turns out she already knew 1 x 7 = 7, and 2 x 7 = 14. (“Duh, mother, I’m not STUPID.”)
So for a minute I grilled her over and over – “What’s one times seven? What’s two times seven?”
And then I said, “You know what three times seven is? Twenty one.” And grilled her over and over for another minute, asking her randomly what 1 x 7 is, 2 x 7 and 3 x 7.
I repeated this adding 4 x 7 = 28 into the mix. She knew what 5 x 7 was, so that was added in really quickly, and turns out she knew what 6 x 7 was (“The answer to Life, the Universe and Everything!” – yes, we are Douglas Adams fans in this house!) AND what 7 x 7 was.
Eventually I was randomly asking her ALL the multiplication questions for her seven times tables. If she got it wrong, I didn’t correct her, I just paused, while she tried again.
After fifteen minutes, I asked her to tell me her 7 times table.
Big deep breath. Eyes up to the ceiling, concentrating…. “Seven, fourteen, twenty-one, twenty-eight, thirty-five, forty-two, forty-nine, fifty-six, sixty-three, seventy, seventy-seven… EIGHTY-FOUR-YOU-OWE-ME-A-POUND!”
Even she conceded that she was surprised she managed it so quickly. Of course, this is still bedtime, and OF COURSE she had to prove she could do it again by reciting it to The Hubster, The Teen, both cats individually and finally me again before eventually getting into bed.
It was worth the pound. AND the £1.50 when she learned the nine times tables the following evening (“It’s called inflation, mother.”)
This is just one of the techniques I’ve used to teach times tables, and it happens to work well with The Tween (and The Teen before her, who never required bribing or mentioning inflation. EVER.), but that doesn’t mean all of our Superstars learn this way! Check out this blog post HERE for more ideas to help get those times tables into brains!
Have a fine Wednesday, lovely people!
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash