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Teaching multiplication tables up to 12×12

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By John Dabell

My six year old daughter is very fond of telling me what 12×12 is. She knows the answer is 144 and she loves telling anyone she meets. Although she might not understand what she is saying, I get the feeling that she won’t forget it. Her understanding will come later. She has simply enjoyed learning what she considers to be ‘grown-up’ maths.

Multiplication tables


2014 National Curriculum logo

Multiplication tables in the 2014 curriculum

When you start drilling into the new maths curriculum for lower Key Stage 2, you will find that the Year 4 programme of study states that pupils should be ‘taught to recall multiplication and division facts for multiplication tables up to 12×12’. The ‘old’ curriculum stated that children needed to know up to the 10 times table by the end of primary school. Many feel that learning up to 12×12 by the age of nine is a tall order, but it certainly shouldn’t phase us. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to learn some interesting concepts and patterns.


What order should you teach tables?

The times tables facts are important, and make a significant contribution to numeracy. However, there is no research indicating an ideal order for teaching the times tables from 0 to 12. The usual consensus about learning tables is as follows:
  • Start with children building up a table using physical apparatus such as cubes and rods,
  • Move on to pictorial representation of tables,
  • Symbolise the two types of table – for example, the table of 2s and the two times table,
  • Practise the tables in both written and oral forms.

1, 2, 10 and 5 times tables
Children need to know how to double and how to halve. Teaching the 1, 2, 10 and 5 tables emphasises how effective doubling and halving strategies can be – so they seem to be a good place to start.

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