Multiplication is introduced early in elementary school. It is a
concept that all children will carry with them for the rest of their
lives. Most teachers and instructors teach multiplication through
rote memory. Studies have found that this might be the best tactic
for learning. Rote memory involves repeating a concept or idea over
and over again until you remember it. This concept can be repeated
orally or through writing. The problem is that most teachers think
that this is a good teaching method, but studies disagree. In fact,
studies have indicated that rote memorization takes way too much time.
It is also one of the least effective ways of memorizing concepts.
So then which methods are best for teaching multiplication? Most
agree that incorporating some fun into learning times tables will
always bare the most fruit. Research has shown that pictures are easier
to remember than numbers. Maybe because pictures are more fun than
numbers are. Pictures help draw emotion from us which, in turn, is
a marker for our brain to remember things. Some teachers like to teach
times tables with music. This has been shown to be successful for
the most part. Some children do not learn well this way. Most students
enjoy singing along with the tape or CD and this method works much
better than rote memory. On the down side, teaching multiplication
based on music can have the same result in the long run that it did
with the ABC's. How many people still sing the ABC song in their head
to determine where a letter falls in the alphabet?
Multiplication is a "shortcut" to adding. Multiplication is just
adding the same number up that many times and when that is explained
to children early on, they seem to have an easier time with it. Some
of the kids are only comfortable doing multiplication by writing out
9 + 9 + 9 and adding it to get the answer. Clearly it is easier to
start with counting by 5s or 10s, so the kids get used to the concept.
Then if they forget, they can go back to counting 5s or 10s and then
apply that to other numbers also. The old saying that "practice makes
perfect' stands true even with multiplication because if you practice
something enough, it becomes easier. So if you find ways to calculate
the multiplications, instead of using passive memorization, you will
be more successful. The simplest way to calculate your multiplications
is to do the exact operation that it is, which namely repeated addition
is. In other words 6 x 4 becomes 4+4+4+4+4+4.
People in general but especially children always have a tendency
to work better when there is an incentive surrounding the final outcome.
Offer the children some candy or a trinket from the dollar store if
they can get 20 multiplication problems correct in one minute or something
along those lines. It is not even as much about what they won as it
is that they won something, which makes them feel smart and special.
This makes students stop counting on their fingers because they don't
have time in one minute. Some other fun ways to learn multiplication
are to use card games such as War or dice games. Multiplication bingo
is another very fun way to teach the times tables but which ever route
you choose the most important thing is to offer an incentive. Incentives
always get people's attention, kids and adults alike.
There are a lot of interactive games on the computer that teach multiplication
too. Kids love to play games and they also welcome every opportunity
to use a computer. Often it is difficult to allow all children to
use the computer but working something out where the children who
do the best with their multiplication tables are allowed to test on
the computer. This is another way of offering incentives.