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Multiplication Facts Help

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: How can we help our third-grader with multiplication facts? She has to use her fingers and count forward or backward each time. In order to pass third grade, she needs to do well on several timed multiplication tests. She gets excellent grades in her other subjects. Please help!

A: It is not unusual for children to have trouble learning the multiplication facts. Fortunately, you can help your daughter learn them if you are willing to work with her every day. To succeed, you will need to keep drill sessions short, review learned facts frequently, and not teach a new set of facts until your daughter has completely memorized the previous set. A fact is not considered learned until the response is three seconds or less.

Begin by making a set of multiplication flash cards with your daughter. Do not include the answers. If you teach the facts in some type of order, it will be easier for your child to learn them. Begin by working with the flash cards that have 1 as the first factor (1x1, 1x2, etc.) followed by those with 1 as the second factor. Next, go to the facts that have 2 as the first factor. Remind your daughter that these facts are equivalent to addition doubles, and then teach her the facts where 2 is the second factor.

Continue by having her learn the facts in which 5 is the first and second factor. The 4's can be taught with a double and double again approach. For example, for 4x3 and 3x4, double 3 is 6 and double again is 12. Continue finding patterns as you help your daughter learn different sets of facts.

Whenever your child doesn't know a fact, don't tell her the answer -- answers that come easy are not retained. Instead, show her how to find the answer. For example, if she doesn't know 3x4, have her draw 3 parallel horizontal lines and 4 parallel vertical lines that intersect the 3 horizontal lines. Then have her count the intersections to get the answer 12. She should also write out the problem. Good Luck!

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


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