Or how my maths hater became a mathematician who loves playing with numbers.
I know you’ll find the quotes in this post hard to believe. “She’s making that up,” you’ll say. But I wouldn’t do that. Everything in this post is absolutely true!
Sophie, Gemma-Rose and I have been working our way through Bill Handley’s book, Teach Your Children Tables. In my post More on Times Tables, I promised to report back, to let you know how we are getting on.
The book claims a child can master the tables in half an hour. Is that true? Yes. A child can’t memorise them in half an hour, but she can certainly learn a quick and easy strategy for working them out.
I showed Gemma-Rose how to work out the answers to such problems as 8 X 7. I then wrote a number of problems in an exercise book for her, and she went off to solve them… and got them all right.
“Can I have some more, Mum?” Gemma-Rose solved the next lot and thrust the book at me for another set of multiplications… and another. There are only so many combinations of the basic times tables so I found myself repeating questions. I am sure this quote from the book is correct:
Does this replace learning your tables? No, it replaces the method of learning your tables. After you have calculated 8 times 7 equals 56 or 13 times 14 equals 182 a dozen times or more, you stop doing the calculation; you remember the answer. This is much more enjoyable than constantly repeating your tables.
“Morning tea time! That’s enough for today,” I announced, and Gemma-Rose moaned, “But I want to do more maths!” (Yes, it really is true!)
“If you are good, I’ll give you some more problems later,” I said. I was only joking but Gemma-Rose gave me a huge smile and said, “I’ll be good!” (I don’t usually bribe my children to be good.)
Sophie already knows her times tables so we have moved ahead in the book to work out how to do more complicated multiplications quickly, and even in our heads. Working out such problems as 97 X 99 is absolutely simple. Even I can work that out in a few seconds without resorting to a calculator or even paper and pencil.
The second claim on the front of my copy of Teach Your Children Tables says: Improve thinking skills. Yes, we are doing lots of thinking and yes, it is possible to work out complicated problems in our heads by thinking carefully.
The third claim says: Boost confidence and self-esteem. I keep hearing such things as:
“I wonder if the big girls can work out these problems in their heads.” (They can’t and Sophie can, which pleases her immensely.)
“Can we do some more maths, Mum? I can do these problems!”
“Mum is teaching us how to do multiplications such as 95 X 95 in our heads. The answer is 9025. It’s so much fun.” (Written in a letter to a friend.)
“I think I’m turning into Skye Penderwick!” (A character in the Penderwick series who enjoys working out complicated maths problems just for fun.)
Yesterday, we learnt a simple method to check our answers.
I often tell my students it is not enough to calculate an answer to a problem in mathematics; you haven’t finished until you have checked you have the right answer.
So Sophie worked out her multiplications and then she checked them all herself. What power!
We still have so much to learn. There are more chapters to work through. But when we’ve finished…
“Mum, did you know there are more maths books written by the same person?”
“Yes. I’ll buy one when we’ve finished this one.”
Sophie smiles. She can’t wait. She now regards herself as a mathematician.
One last claim: Make learning fun!
“Mum, maths is so much fun!” It seems that claim is really true.
And if you are wondering if the quotes from my children are really true, try the book out on your own children and see what they say.