Saint Brigid’s National School, is a primary school situated in the centre of Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Our mission is to provide the highest quality education for all our children in a happy, safe and stimulating Christian environment, focusing on their academic, social, personal, moral and spiritual development to help them be the best they can be.

The Importance of Learning Tables

Why are Tables important?

We sometimes talk about giving your child the ‘gift of reading’ when we teach them to read. Helping your child to master their Tables in an invaluable gift also.

Tables are a basic essential for when learning mathematics. Children need to master them. Unless they learn their Tables, it is difficult for children to learn other aspects of maths. Failing to learn Tables makes learning more complicated maths, more difficult than it need to be. If a child can automatically knows the answer to a table then more difficult maths will be less challenging.

How quick do the children need to be?

Children need to be able to rattle off their Tables like they know their own name. If the children have the answers to the Tables at the tip of their tongue then they can concentrate on learning the methodology of new sum. There are at least two concepts in primary school maths which children find challenging: long division and fractions. In a typical long division sum, a child will need to divide, multiply and subtract several times. Working with fractions also need the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Without knowing their Tables, children will find this very hard.

Teachers are finding that children think they don’t understand a sum when all that is happening is that they are making simple mistakes in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. This can be discouraging for the child. Children may view themselves as someone who doesn’t understand maths, when in reality all it is is that they don’t know their Tables.

Why not use a calculator?

  • Children can become over reliant on calculators.
  • They don’t develop estimating skills.
  • Keying in the wrong number can happen.

But because the student hasn’t developed estimating skills they are then unaware when a particular answer is unlikely.

When do children begin to learn Tables?

Addition and Take Away Tables are taught in 1st and 2nd class. It is school policy that Tables to 6 are taught in 1st class. The class teacher revises these in 2nd and then the children continue to learn Tables up to adding and taking away 11 and 12. 1st/2nd Class provide ‘a window of opportunity’ to learn addition/subtraction Tables. It is important to master these Tables by the end of 2nd because

  • in 3rd and 4th the focus changes to multiplication and division.
  • if a child knows their simple number facts then they can give their full attention to methodology when being taught new maths

What Tables are learnt in 3rd and 4th?

Multiplication/Division taught in 3rd and 4th.

What about Tables in 5th and 6th?

Regular revision of Tables is part of the 5th and 6th class programme. Teachers can teach the Tables, but children have to learn them. Even though teachers introduce Tables from 1st class, teachers of 5th and 6th find they are teaching Tables that should have been learnt earlier in a child’s schooling.

How are Tables taught in school?

In 1st and 2nd Class we practise Tables, in a concrete way, using lollipop sticks and unifix cubes. We also use the table book.

Children learn in different ways. Many respond to working with concrete objects; lollipop sticks, cubes, smarties. Some children learn best by singing or chanting the table. For some, keeping track of their Tables on their fingers (a kinaesthetic approach) helps.

Towards of 2nd class multiplication is introduced as repeated addition. In class the children learn about number patterns and learn to count in 2s, 4s, 5s, etc., using the hundred square.

How can parents help?

Tables are regularly given as homework. Sometimes children think that homework of a ‘learning off’ type is less important than written homework. But learning Tables is very important. Learning Tables needn’t be done at the kitchen table. You can work on them with your child on the journey to and from school or while waiting in the supermarket queue!

What else can parents do?

  • Let your children see, that you place value on learning Tables; that you think Tables are important.
  • Show your child how quickly an answer should be arrived at!
  • Find out what your child already knows.
  • Focus on what your child needs to learn.
  • Involve them in setting goals.
  • Monitor progress in such a way that they too can see it.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Praise success.
  • Spend quality time together practising.
  • Have fun!
  • Click on this LINK to find online activities for learning tables.