Multiplication Mania

Learning how to multiply seems to be a rite of passage that many adults recall from their school years. I can't tell you how many times I've met a parent who says "So when will my son start to learn multiplication?" This questions is inevitably followed by "Do you still teach it the way I learned it? We just had to memorize the facts." While it is important that students become fluent with their multiplication facts, time is spent helping students understand the purpose and process of multiplication on a deeper level.

You can help your child understand the process and gain fluency by using these five quick tips for helping your child learn to multiply.

Adding comes first Reinforce addition skills prior to the introduction of multiplication. Remind your child that multiplication is a faster way to add numbers together! Making that connection can take some of the pressure off.

Group items into smaller sets While playing with toys like Legos or blocks, divide items into groups. If you make groups of three, count by threes to find your total. Then ask your child to count the number of groups and multiply that by three ("There are seven groups of three"). See if he gets the same answer and ask which method was faster for finding the total.

Use real-life examplesMake up some multiplication problems while sitting in a restaurant, reading in the library, or waiting in a doctor's office. Try problems like "If there are five tables with four people sitting at each table, how many people are in the restaurant in all?" Seeing the people may also help him solve the problem by visualizing the tables.

Hang a reference sheet at home Some children are visual learners and having a multiplication chart near their homework spot will reinforce their acquisition of this skill. Visual learners will be able to "see" the chart in their heads when completing problems in the future.

Use money to practice Children typically find money to be a motivating tool for math so using pennies, nickels and dimes is a unique way to practice multiplying. Try a problem like "If we have ten dimes that are worth ten cents each, how much money do we have in all?" Be careful to specify that you are asking for the total amount of money (100 cents or \$1.00) and not the number of coins.

Helping your child learn multiplication is a fun and easy way to get involved with her school work. Don't be afraid to try these tips at home today!

Jennifer Cerbasi teaches at a public school for children on the autism spectrum in New Jersey. As a coordinator of Applied Behavioral Analysis programs in the home, she works with parents to create and implement behavioral plans for their children in an environment that fosters both academic and social growth. In addition to her work both in the classroom and at home, she is also a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: twitter.com/JenniferCerbasi.

Jennifer is an educational consultant who works with families and educators to establish healthy and productive routines in the home and school. Adapting behavior management techniques she implemented for years as a special educator, she helps parents and teachers adopt these tools to fit their unique needs and priorities. Jennifer also speaks to parent and education groups on current topics in education and children's health. Visit www.jennifercerbasi.com

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