Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Assessment of where my son is with times tables

So, this morning I have spoken with my son and we have worked out where he is currently at with his times tables.

  • He is confident with 2, 5 and 10 times tables.  He can do 3s, but he has to work them out rather than knowing them by heart, so we need a little more work here.  He says he can do some of his 6 times table, but not the 4s (which he did before the 6s).
  • He does not understand how times tables work in the real world yet.  I gave him 5 questions designed to see whether he could work out which were times tables and which were not, but he couldn't work it out (see here for more details of the test I gave him)
  • He does understand that, for example, 6 x 4 is the same as 4 x 6, but he does not apply this unless I really press him.  I asked him what 3 x 7 was and he said he didn't know because he hadn't done his 7 times table yet.  When I asked if there was another way to work it out he didn't know, but when I asked if 7 x 3 would be the same he said "oh yeah, 21"
So, my next step with my son is to come up with a plan to change where is now into being totally confident with times tables.  

Times table test to establish understanding of times tables in the real world

This is the test I have used to try to work out whether my children understand how to apply times tables in the real world.

  1. A farmer has 3 chicken houses. Each chicken house has 5 chickens in it. How many chickens does the farmer have altogether?
  1. There are 10 cars, each car has 3 people inside. How many people are there altogether?
  1. There are 2 cars, one has 3 people in and one has 4 people in. How many people are there altogether?
  1. There are 3 chicken houses, one has 2 chickens, one has 5 chickens and one is empty. How many chickens are there?
  2. There are 4 hospitals, each hospital has 10 patients. How many patients are there?

I wasn't so interested in whether they got the right answers to the questions as whether they understood which questions could be answered using multiplication.

So questions 1, 2 and 5 could use multiplication because in each case, there were the same number of items in each set, the multiplication is number of items per set x number of sets.

In questions 3 and 4, there are different numbers of items in each set, so all you can do is add the number of items together.

So the answers should have been
1. 15 Chickens
2. 30 people
3. 7 people
4. 7 chickens
5. 40 patients

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Teaching times tables to my children

My children, aged 6 and 8 years old, are at different stages in learning their times tables at school.

I have decided to try to assist both of them with learning their times tables as far as the 12 times table.

My plan is to do this in a fairly systematic way, and for me to tell you about each stage (including what works and what doesn't!) so that you can follow their progress and hopefully get some ideas to help with your children.

The first step must be to work out their current level of understanding.
I want to know the following things

  • Which times tables can they already remember of by heart
  • Which times tables can they work out
  • Do they understand how times tables actually work
  • Do they understand that, for example 4 x 6 is the same as 6 x 4 and can they apply this to their times tables.
Once I understand these things, I am hopeful that I can come up with a plan that will lead to the both being able to learn all times tables up to 12 x 12 = 144, whilst really understanding how times tables work and how to work out any that they may forget.

I will report back as soon as I have assessed their current levels.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


I am taking a year to change everything in my life.  My children are of course a huge part of my life, and I can't think of transforming my life without doing my best to improve my children's lives too.

As with all parents, I want my children to have the best start in life - to be happy, healthy, intelligent and have fun.  My children are 6 and 8 years old and enjoy their lives, but as with most things, I could be doing better.  This is my statement to the world that I am going to try harder, and am going to do better to give them the lives they deserve.

This blog will be my account of how I, and my children, get on.

Wish us luck!