Multiplication Breakthrough, 3 years later

Someone used the search terms “multiplication breakthrough” and landed on my site the other day. I don’t even remember writing anything like that, so I went back and reread the post I composed almost three years ago. Funny, I guess we didn’t stick with it because I don’t even remember doing that. However, we have had a new breakthrough just this school year. I had tried using flashcards in the past, but they didn’t really work. I don’t know whether it had more to do with his developmental level, his lack of focus, or what. But lately, they do work. Maybe it’s because I have changed my approach. For a while, we would do two or three cards until he knew them, then we would add one at a time, mixing them up sometimes to make sure he wasn’t just memorizing the order they were in. It worked! He now knows almost the entire deck, front to back. He’s very mathematically minded, so we have made it through five years of school without ever memorizing all the facts. He could always figure them out because he came up with a system. I had him explain it to me, and this is how he did it:

Two times a number is that number plus itself.

Four times a number is two times a number plus two times a number.

Three times a number is that number plus itself twice.

Six times a number is three times a number plus three times a number.

Five times a number is half of ten times that number.

Seven times a number is three times the number subtracted from ten times the number.

Eight times a number is two times the number subtracted from ten times the number.

Nine times a number is the number subtracted from ten times the number.

MathIt seems crazy and burdensome, but he got rather fast at it, and now he has a very good sense of how numbers interact with each other. Word problems are easy for him because he knows how math works. Distributive property is easy for him for the same reason. Now, finally, he has his facts memorized, but I believe that he is better off for having to figure them out for the last five years.

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7 responses to “Multiplication Breakthrough, 3 years later

  1. As you know I don’t homeschool – but I support outside of school hours. Last night I spent at least an hour on 10 maths questions with my 6-year-old. I keep reminding myself that through patience and perseverance he will get it. He made me laugh as he said he was ‘guessing’ the answers – so I explained that it may feel as though the answer is random and popping into his mind, it’s because his understanding of numbers and his mental maths is improving, so it’s more automatic.

    • That is awesome it’s becoming automatic for him. Math gets so much easier and quicker once everything is memorized. It can even be fun! I kept wondering if Ian would have learned his tables quicker in a public school, but now I’m breathing a sigh of relief. And he’s not behind his grade level for math; we have done a good job keeping up with concepts. Just keep plugging along, and it will eventually get easier!

  2. My kids loved the “Wrap-Ups” but I had a grandchild who learned the sums in one week, staying with us while her parents moved, and playing with a toy that teaches the sums. She got faster than her older sister at it and we had a fun flash-card game with them. She was so competitive that she stopped and grabbed both sides of her head while we were playing, and said, “Oh! My head is too tired!” We rested a bit and she insisted on continuing. Ha.
    I love home schooling because each child can receive exactly what he needs and even some of his heart’s desires, due to low student/teacher ratio! And because I love my own kids like my own life. 🙂

    • Wow, what toy was that? My son is getting so good at them now that I think he is ready for timed online games. He doesn’t have another person to be competitive with, since he is an only child.

      • It was a mere arrangement of the sums table beneath buttons. The buttons are labeled with each problem set up vertically (as it should be in my opinion) and when you depress the buttons, they (being translucent) reveal the answer beneath. Too simple. I think it no longer exists on the market, but I’d think it would be easy to construct something with cardboard lift-up tabs to provide the same effect?

      • Oh, that might be a fun craft for him. He loves crafts! We are thinking about setting up an Etsy page, and he has been begging me too earn money lately, so maybe there’s an idea there!

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