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Which times tables should you learn first? (And what comes next?)

Which times tables should you learn first?

Times tables? Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Don’t fret. I’ve got you covered.

Whatever you call them, be it times tables, multiplication tables or multiplication facts, there’s no denying how important it is that children know them.

Multiplication facts crop up in so many areas of math. Children who know their multiplication facts well and can recall them quickly, will find math much easier than those who don’t.

When children are ready to learn times tables, parents often wonder which times tables to learn first and then what order they should all be learnt in.

The post aims to shed some light on that very topic: where to start and what order to follow.

And so…. (drum roll please….)

Which multiplication facts should you learn first? The 2s, 10s and 5s!

I think most educators would agree that you should start with the trio of 2s, 10s and 5s. These are considered the easiest to learn multiplication tables.

Out of these three, I would start with the 2s. By the time a child is ready to learn times tables, they will have already worked on doubling numbers to 10 and so they’ve already had experience with (and essentially already learnt) the two times table.

And next? The 10s.

The 10 times table is one of the easiest to learn. For a start, numbers in the 10 times table always end in a 0. Multiples of 10 are easily recognizable.

And then the 5s.

The 5 times table also has a nice pattern. 5, 10, 15, 20… Multiples of 5 all end in a 5 or a 0.

And next?

There is not necessarily an exact order to learn the rest of the tables. Different teachers may introduce them in a slightly different order.

With that said, however, this is the order I would follow…

Related post: Multiplication Facts Logic Puzzle (freebie!)

Phase 2: the 4s, 3s and 9s

After 5s, I would tackle the 4s, 3s and then the 9s.

First, the 4s.

The 4s have the advantage of being double the 2s. If a child knows their 2 times table, this will help them with the 4s.

For example, if you know that 6 x 2 = 12, then 6 x 4 will be double 12 (24). Also, numbers in the 4 times table are all even, which is helpful too.

Next, the 3s

Again with the 3s, use you can use your knowledge of the 2 times table to help you out. Want to calculate 6 x 3? Well you already know 6 x 2. So just add one more 6 to that and you’ve got your answer.

And then the 9s

Why jump to the 9s? There are a couple of reasons.

By the time children start on their 9s, they are already confident with their 10 times table and can use this to help them.

For example if you know that 10 x 3 is 30, 9 x 3 is just going to be 3 less than 30 (27).

There are also lots of cool tricks and fun ways of working out the 9s.

For example, the digits in a multiple of 9 always add up to 9. Let’s take 5 x 9 = 45. The digits 4 and 5 total 9. This is always a good way to double check whether a number is in the 9 times table or not.

And of course with the 9s, you can also use a cool trick with your fingers to find the answers. This really good printable from Oxford Owl shows you how. With the 9s, you quite literally have the answer the to the 9 times table at their finger tips!

And last but not least, the 6s, 8s and 7s

For me, the last batch is always the 6s, 7s and 8s.

I’m not sure there’s any particular order with these ones. I know the 7s are sometimes referred to as the hardest times table to learn and are often left to the end, but I’ve always found they stick in my head better than the 6s and 8s.

With the 6s and 8s however, you can use your knowledge of the 3 and 4 times tables to help you. (After all, the 6 times table is double the 3s and the 8 times table is double the 4s).

So, for example, if you know that 6 x 4 is 24, 6 x 8 is going to be double 24 (48).

What about square numbers?

Square numbers are a special group. You can see on the multiplication chart that the square numbers form a diagonal line from 1×1 down to 10×10.

multiplication grid showing square numbers

You get a square number when you multiply a number by itself. For example, 16 is a square number (4 x 4), as is 100 (10 x 10).

If a child knows the square numbers, they can use them to help work out other ‘nearby’ facts.

For example, if you know 7 x 7 = 49, you can use this to help you work out 8 x 7 or 6 x 7.

With this in mind, you might want to tackle square numbers before you learn the trickier 6s, 7s and 8s.

A note about when to start learning times tables

Before children start to learn and memorize times tables, they should have a good understanding about what multiplication is all about. After all, there’s really no value in having children rote learn math facts when they don’t truly understand what they mean.

With multiplication, children start by looking at multiplication as x ‘groups of’ y, (“if we have 3 groups of 5 apples, we have 15 apples altogether’).

Children should also have experience of seeing numbers shown as arrays, where a product of two numbers is shown as a group of objects arranged in rows and columns. Multiplication arrays provide a really brilliant visual representation of multiplication.

After children have a good understanding of multiplication, moving on to learn and memorise times tables would be a next step.

Related post: Real life multiplication arrays task cards

And the really important thing to remember about multiplication is…

When learning multiplication, one really important thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter which order you multiply the numbers.

For example, 4 x 5 is equal to 5 x 4. Just as 10 x 9 is equal to 9 x 10. This idea is so helpful when learning times tables.

Stuck on 5 x 7? Switch the numbers around and calculate 7 x 5! (Most people find the 5s much easier to remember than the 7s).

Ways to practise times tables

Once your child has worked at committing multiplication facts to memory, they still need to practise them. Having to constantly practise times tables can get a bit repetitive, so it’s good to find lots of different ways to do this.

First off, I would suggest downloading my printable multiplication tables. This free printable shows all the multiplication facts organised into separate multiplication tables (and all on one sheet!). This is handy to refer to and you can also use it to easily keep track of which facts your child is working on.

In terms of good ways to practise times tables, math games involving times tables make a fun way to keep times tables ticking over.

You can also revise all multiplication facts in one sitting by filling in a blank multiplication chart (you can download a free copy to use over here).

Make sure also that your child has opportunities to apply these multiplication facts to solve math problems. These worksheets have tons of times tables activities where you have to apply your knowledge of times tables to find the answers. They really make you think.

And there we have it! I hope this post has answered your questions about which times tables to learn first and indeed what order the others should follow.

Although helping your child to learn their math facts takes a bit of work, it’ll help them so much in the long run if they can recall them with speed and confidence.

Thanks for visiting the blog today. Best of luck with those times tables!

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