How Did You Learn Your Times Tables? Some Tips and Tricks From An Experienced Educator

How did you learn your times tables? Many adults today, recall having learnt all of them ‘off by heart’, through rote memorization, but there is a strong argument to support that a more ‘meaningful’ approach will have greater long-term benefits.

Rote learning is simply a way for the brain to store data short-term and does not require a deep understanding of a concept. In order to commit all 144 times tables to long-term memory, they must be accessed, repeated, and tested frequently.

What we have learnt over the years, is that learning in meaningful ways, is far more effective.

At NumberWorks’nWords, we know that true mastery of a concept (the times tables in this instance), requires a higher order thinking, which in turn leads to the formation of new neural pathways. The brain’s ability to make connections in this way is referred to as neuroplasticity.

A highly effective approach to the teaching of mathematics is called Cognitive Guided Instruction (CGI). Like Bloom’s Taxomony (Benjamin Bloom 1956), it focuses on ‘conceptual understanding’ over ‘process’ and suggests learning without understanding, limits a child’s ability to problem solve and apply what they have learnt to new situations.

So let’s return to the task of learning the Times Tables and explain how, at NumberWorks’nWords, we do this in a more meaningful way.

Our program incorporates a range of strategies when learning the times tables, so children are afforded the opportunities to make connections in their understanding of number and number properties, patterns, place value, operations and more.

Our comprehensive visual and interactive resources, used in conjunction with concrete materials, written representations and most importantly, explicit teaching, empower our students to make connections in real and relevant ways.

When something ’clicks’ for a child, it is like it is locked in. Suddenly, the steps make sense and the new piece of information is literally attached or connected to something permanent in the brain.

Recalling and using this information becomes fluid and purposeful, and enables the child to understand the concept, rather than simply following a process that has no meaning.  

When teaching the Times Tables, we always start with the easiest patterns (x1, x2, x10, x5) then move onto the progressively more difficult (x3, x4, x9, x11, x6, x7, x8, x12). The accepted standard of fluid recall is to be able to solve each table in 3 seconds or less.

Below are some strategies that you may find helpful, as your child masters each of the times tables.


The number always stays the same. Explaining this as ‘one group of’ something, helps the child to see that there is a conservation of number and that the ‘one group’ does not change.


Some children may not initially see that the 2 times table is the same as the addition doubles strategy. Once this connection is made, the 2x process is often understood in a different perspective and it alters the way the brain arranges the numbers.

Using visualisation also helps, eg 2×3 or 2 groups of 3 is like an insect’s legs (3 on each side), 2×4 is a spider’s legs, 2×6 is a carton of 12 eggs in 2 rows.


Children learn to skip count in 3s and also learn an addition strategy called ‘count on’ which means you put the large number in your head and count on up to 3 steps forward, eg if you know 3×3 =9, then 4×3= 9 count on 3 more, hence 9 (big number in your head) count on 10…11…12 (the answer).


Once a child masters the 2X tables, then the 4X is simply double the 2X. eg. 2×7=14, so 4×7= double 14 which is 28. This is particularly easy when there is no need to bridge the tens.

If the child does need to bridge the tens, the connection to place value and partitioning become important eg 2×8 can be considered as 5+3+5+3 which the child could then put the ‘friendly’ numbers together and mentally arrange them as 5+5+3+3 = 10+6.


Children learn to skip count in 5s orally because they can quickly learn the pattern of the words. Reciting the pattern is actually a quick and efficient way to get an answer to a 5X table, so this is an easy connection for children to make.

Photo Credit: Pexels/

X6, X7, and X8

I group these together because it allows children to see that they are not as difficult as they may have first thought. Once the child masters the earlier tables (x1, x2, x3, x4, x5, x9, x10, x11), it means they can turn them all around to solve any table that includes a 6, a 7 or an 8.

Making this connection straight away, means children will more readily apply the learnt strategy, now in a meaningful way to the more ‘difficult’ tables.

I often explain to students who are learning their tables with us, that there is a useful strategy, or pattern to almost all of them.

However, there is a small list of specific tables that I recommend they do commit to memory. When children realise that the list is so small, it makes the overwhelming task of learning (memorising) ‘all’ of the tables, seem very easy indeed.








Not everyone is aware of the many strategies and patterns that exist in the 9 time tables. Firstly, the 2 digit answers in every instance (1-10) always appear as the same combinations of digits ie 2 and 7 go together to make 3×9=27 as well as 8×9=72, 3and 6 go together as 36 and 63 etc. The added clue is that the 2 digit combinations actually add to make 9, so this helps the child to remember which ones go together.

When presented with a 9 times table, eg 9×8  the child can think that 10 x 8 would be 80, so 9×8 will start with a 7 and the number that goes together with 7 is 2. The answer is 72.

Then of course there is always the ‘using the fingers’ strategy. By counting off the 10 fingers 1 to 10, simply curl over the finger represented in the 9x fact. (See image below)


It is important for children to understand why the zero goes on the end of any number that is being multiplied by 10. The pattern of simply ‘adding’ a zero is easy, but again the risk is that children will simply follow a process without really attaching any meaning to it. Using language like ‘adding’ can actually confuse many children with the process of addition and of course that is not what is happening here.

When children make the connection to the changing place value of the digits, they will realise that the original number is now 10 times bigger! When learning to multiply by ten, children need opportunities to manipulate and arrange concrete materials and to see the process visually, before they can understand what is happening.

The learning of concepts such as fractions, decimals will be so much easier once children have this fundamental understanding of the 10 times tables.

Photo Credit: Pexels/August de Richelieu


The obvious pattern in the repeated digit makes the 11s easy to recall, but again, it is important to develop this understanding through cognitive guided instruction (so the child knows the answer is the combination of the already learnt 10x fact plus the 1x fact)


Like the 11s, the 12 times tables are the combination of the already learnt 10x fact and 2x fact.

At NumberWorks’nWords we know that mastery of the Times Tables is a fundamental core skill. We focus on core skills and the teaching of meaningful strategies, because it is proven that the more connections children make as they learn each table, the more readily they will be able to apply their understanding to each new mathematical problem in the future.

Maths Competition for Brisbane Children

This competition is proudly sponsored by NumberWorksnWords in Clayfield. Every entrant will receive a free evaluation and a free lesson. All entrants will go into a draw, the winner will receive a whole term’s tuition, worth $650.

TO ENTER: Simply pass the problem below onto your child and ask them to solve it. Then complete the entry form below it. Competition closes on October 17, 2023.

Maths quiz times tables
Fill out my online form.
How did you learn your times tables?
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Published 9-October-2023

“If every classroom could look like this, education would be revolutionised in Australia” Clayfield Specialist Says

Teachers, parents, and administrators know that the education system is under stress. It has been for a long time and is only getting worse. Meanwhile, technology outside the traditional classroom is improving by leaps and bounds.

Julie Christophers had been a teacher for 25 years. She trained as a literacy and numeracy specialist, which led to a range of roles including support teacher, working with children with special needs, and twice as an Acting Principal.

In 2016, Julie left teaching, disillusioned with a curriculum that had become so overcrowded, that students were no longer afforded the time to consolidate their understandings.

“Even with my years of experience, I didn’t feel I was able to make a positive difference anymore.”

“Later that year, I accepted a position to manage the Ashgrove Centre of a company called NumberWorks’nWords. Within the first week, I was absolutely blown away! Students were engaged, excited and enthusiastic about learning and the results they were achieving in every lesson, confirmed to me that this was what I had been missing!”

“I remember thinking, “If every classroom could look like this, education would be revolutionised in Australia.”

Julie Christophers Education specialist

Clayfield & Mount Gravatt

After a few months, Julie was so convinced that she and her husband invested in opening a NumberWorks’nWords in Clayfield which then led to opening another in Mt Gravatt a few years later.

“It’s just been so rewarding because I can see the immediate difference we are making.”

What makes it different?

Whilst the education system, even in the private sector, struggles to get the ratio of students per teacher to less than 1:25, the NumberWorks’nWords ratio is 1:3.

Every child works on their own individualised and tailored lesson plans. The proprietary software is an incredible resource, much like a dynamic textbook of modelled examples and interactive learning opportunities, but the most important difference is that every child has the support of a tutor in the teachable moments.

NumberWork'nWords education support  tutor and student

“The key difference our system offers is that the students need to prove they have mastered what they are working on before they move onto the next concept, skill or level. Schools simply can’t afford the time to do this for every child and in the classroom there are few resources to help individual students catch up.”


Julie’s two centres have produced a long list of great stories, like the Grade 9 boy who had failed Maths and English for many years at school. After one term at NumberWorks’nWords, he passed both subjects. By the second term, he averaged B- and by the third term, he got an A in an assignment, something his parents could not believe.

NumberWorks’nWords specialises in Maths and English tuition for children aged Prep to Year 10. Whether students are requiring intensive catch up, support to keep up or challenging extension, NumberWorks’nWords helps them achieve their goals.

Free Assessment

NumberWorks’nWords Clayfield offers a free assessment for new students. The software is used to compile a baseline report reflecting how the student is tracking against the curriculum.

Education is fun

“The assessment allows us to identify individual needs, which we can then explain in a detailed report for parents during the evaluation session.”

Julie is currently running a monthly competition on Clayfield News where all entrants receive the assessment plus the first lesson free, with no further obligation, it runs during the last 10 days of each month, look out for it.


Julie also writes a column offering support and advice for parents to help their children get the best educational outcomes.

Tutor and student

“It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a child’s confidence returns when they know they have the support they need.”

Julie’s passion and indeed NumberWorks’nWords mission, is to make a positive difference in the lives of children. The results in her Clayfield and Mt Gravatt centres are speaking for themselves.

Julie Christophers Education specialist

NumberWorks’nWords Mount Gravatt is a proud Promotional Partner of Clayfield News.

Shared Reading with Your Child – A Hack for All Parents

The most common question I am asked by parents of primary school-aged children is, “What can I do at home to help my child with their learning?”

When it comes to a child’s literacy development, the single most powerful tool for parents to understand, is the role they themselves play, in the shared reading experience.

When a child reads out loud to a parent who is listening, interacting and present in the moment, you would be surprised at just how many processes are working at the same time. Reading together is far more valuable than you may have realised and the best part for busy parents is, it takes next to no time to prepare and the only resource you need is a good book.

For younger children, learning to read begins with engaging conversations around pictures, turning pages and making up stories in their own words, identifying characters and recognising settings, taking turns and recalling events, making simple inferences and chatting about their own, perhaps similar, prior experiences.

As a child begins to learn the concepts of letters and sounds and words
and phrases, the text itself begins to offer clues and opportunities for discussion. There develops a conservation of text, whereby the sounds and words are read consistently every time and strategies for decoding and reading accuracy, along with greater word recognition and phrase fluency, become ever more important in the search for meaning.

As a child begins to master the skills of ‘learning to read’, the focus begins to shift to one of ‘reading to learn’. This is where all levels of comprehension develop, from the simplest, literal translation to the deepest analytical interpretation. It is important at every stage, but most critically at this point, that the child is exposed to a wide and rich range of text types.

Reading in itself, is of huge benefit to every child, but it is in the opportunities for lively, fun and contemplative shared reading, that children will develop life-long skills that impact all aspects of their learning. The greatest hack for any parent wanting to help their child at home, is simply to enjoy 10-15 minutes every day, reading together.

The list of benefits is far reaching, but below are just some of the reasons why the shared reading experience is so effective.

 It’s fun!
 Offers regular ‘bonding’ time between parent and child
 Develops letter, sound and word recognition
 Extends vocabulary
 Improves general knowledge
 Lays the foundation for easy communication between child and parent
 Instills a love of reading and learning
 Supports improved sleep patterns
 Stimulates creativity and imagination
 Encourages debate and the development of personal views
 Improves the child’s writing in almost every way! This one is huge!
 Reduces stress
 Develops memory and focus

Monthly competition
Julie Christophers free evaluation