With the news that the government is planning to implement a revised national curriculum from September 2014, that has improving arithmetic as one of its central aims, there has never been a better time to focus on core skills in numeracy.
Multiplication and division can be introduced in its most basic form at the earliest opportunity so that children can begin to familiarise themselves with these key operations.
According to a study conducted by the Australian Catholic University, successive research has shown that: “children as young as kindergarten age solve a variety of problems (multiplication and division) by combining direct modelling with counting and grouping skills and with strategies based on addition and subtraction.”
Cementing knowledge in these areas is crucial for a number of reasons:
Multiplication forms the building block for other mathematical concepts
Once children are confident in the use of their times tables they can begin to apply this knowledge to calculating a variety of sums. As an example, knowing that 2 x 2 = 4 will help children understand that 20 x 20 = 400, and 200 x 200 = 4000. In addition, children can check their calculations using the inverse so that they know that 20 ÷ 4 = 5 is correct because 5 x 4 = 20.
There are a number of ways to introduce children to the concept of multiplication at a young age. Games to help children with maths include multiplication bingo and multiplication snap.
Division and multiplication skills can be applied to real life concepts
As children handle money, share items between friends and cut food into portions they are beginning to build up their division and multiplication skills as part of their everyday life. Being introduced to these ideas at an early age will mean that as well as gaining confidence in the subject, they will be able to utilise these skills in the wider world.