TOO MANY GENUIS KIDS!
We somehow landed in a neighborhood where the great majority of kids are “gifted and talented”. Statistically, only 2% of the population qualifies for the Gifted & Talented program. However, all 2% of these children seem to live on my street! My daughter is amazing in a million different ways, but she is not “gifted and talented” from an academic perspective. She’s not a struggling student either. She’s a typical student who happens to be surrounded by a whole lot of giftedness and academic excellence. This can create a difficult situation when comparing academic progress with her peers. Being surrounded by all these high achievers has brought out the competitive side in me, and I find myself constantly searching for tools and tricks that will give her that little edge academically. When memorizing the multiplication tables was coming up on the academic agenda, I was determined to ensure she had a head start. I planned to teach her to memorize the multiplication facts before they were introduced at school.
Although my children attend traditional school during the school year, I set aside time each summer break for some “summer homeschooling”. We spend plenty of time at the pool, riding bikes, vacationing and playing with friends, but reviewing the curriculum from the prior year or doing some extra work for the upcoming school year is always on my summer agenda.
My children do not love this. They would prefer to binge watch Netflix or play video games for hours on end, but I typically insist on interrupting the fun for some academic activities.
Disclosure: This post was written by a member of the Trigger Sisters’ team – founders of Times Tales, Pet Math and the Kids Chore Chart.
I have to admit that I have made some mistakes on how I’ve “summer homeschooled” my children. I have enrolled them in expensive tutoring programs that didn’t seem to deliver near the results expected. I have also added some stress to our lives by chasing them around the house with checklists to make sure they completed x number of pages in a math workbook, read for x number of minutes and wrote something interesting in their journals. It was difficult to determine how helpful some of these efforts were, but there was one thing I did the summer before my daughter started third grade that both my daughter and I agree was time well spent. I put “memorizing the multiplication tables” on our summer bucket list, and I had her watch a simple video called Times Tales.
Memorizing The Multiplication Tables With Times Tales
I did a little more than just have her watch the video (but honestly, not a whole lot more). After purchasing Times Tales, I sat down with her on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and we settled in to watch Part 1 which was approximately 30 minutes.
Times Tales is designed to help children memorize the upper multiplication facts, and Part 1 went through stories that taught approximately half the facts. She wasn’t exactly excited to watch it (it was still math), but it was much less painful than trying to get her to complete math pages in workbook. The stories were simple, but entertaining enough to keep her attention. When Part 1 was over, she jumped up off the couch and said “done!” and ran off to play. At that point, I wasn’t sure if she had really learned anything. However, I was committed to completing the program and making sure she had those multiplication facts mastered before starting third grade. I printed off some of the reinforcements on the CD that came with the video, and I had her complete them over the next several days.
Each time I sat down with her to complete the reinforcements, I was amazed at how well the stories (and related multiplication facts) stuck. After about a week, we watched Part 2 together and learned the stories for the remaining multiplication facts. I spent another few days pushing reinforcements in front of her to make sure she got it, but most of them were probably not necessary. She got it. She had memorized all of her upper multiplication facts in just two weeks!
Finally! Something That Worked! And Stuck!
A couple of weeks before school started, I pulled out some multiplication worksheets to see how well she remembered her facts (and I was fully prepared to bust out the video again), but she remembered them. Even her little brother who was just entering first grade and had been sitting next to us while we watched the video remembered most of them.
When third grade started, I couldn’t wait for the math placement test at the beginning of the year. My daughter was going to kill it! Much to my disappointment, multiplication facts weren’t on the test. Multiplication facts were taught during the second half of the year, so I would have to wait to find out how successful the program really was.
Over Christmas vacation, I brought out the video again and made her watch Part 1 and Part 2 one more time. Again, it probably wasn’t necessary, but the overachiever in me just couldn’t help myself. She breezed through the Game Show Quiz that was part of the video, proving that she had mastered the upper times tables.
When school resumed after Christmas vacation, her class finally began to focus on memorizing multiplication facts. They took a pretest to assess each students’ current level and my daughter aced EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM. Not only that, but when they started to test the students using timed tests, my daughter was second her in class for multiplication speed. SECOND in a class of 28 students with at least four of the students being in the Gifted & Talented program.
My Daughter, Her Teacher & I Were All AMAZED
Memorizing the multiplication tables with Times Tales was a GAME CHANGER. My daughter’s confidence SOARED. She felt like the smartest kid in the class. She felt like she was good at math. Her teacher asked her to be the “helper” during math because she already knew all her multiplication facts. Her teacher also asked me how she had learned them, and I told her about Times Tales.
Times Tales has both home and classroom editions. Although I was tempted to save this golden nugget for my daughter’s advantage, I offered to purchase the classroom edition for her teacher and she gratefully accepted. Once the teacher began the Times Tales program in her classroom, it didn’t take long for the other students to catch up and have their upper multiplication facts mastered as well. (Darn it – there went my daughter’s advantage! It was fun while it lasted).
My daughter is now in sixth grade. The multiplication facts she memorized with Times Tales have stuck with her, and so has her confidence in math. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this program and how much it helped my daughter’s confidence and achievement in math. Having such a solid foundation with her multiplication facts really set her up for success as math has gotten more challenging.
Have you tried Times Tales yet? Let us know how it worked for your child in the comments.