Why Learn Multiplication?

Times Table is key to numeracy

What is 9×8?  …….   7×8?  ……. 12×12?

If you or your child struggle with instant recall of the multiplication table, then you are not alone. Millions of us struggle with numeracy:

17 million adults in England have numeracy skills at/below primary school level” (Gov.uk, 2011)

This article will examine research findings that show the key to numeracy is knowing the multiplication table off by heart (i.e. achieving instant recall of the times tables) and how dyslexia, dyscalculia and SEN children can effectively master this through kinaesthetic learning thanks to the ground-breaking work done by inTABS™ , an innovative publication company from Oxford.


Is numeracy important?

Surely, you can get by in life without numeracy just as easily?

Research shows that being innumerate or innumeracy, which is defined as ‘unfamiliar with mathematical concepts and methods; unable to use mathematics; not numerate’, has devastating outcomes for children in terms of general long-term social deprivation, poor education (more than twice as likely to be excluded & play truant), unemployment (more than twice as likely to be unemployed), crime (65% of prisoners have numeracy below primary school levels), poor health, higher mortality and mental health issues. In short, innumeracy is a critical factor in poverty and social inequality and the associated costs to UK economy are over £20billion per year (source: National Numeracy).


Root causes of innumeracy

It seems that we have to make sure we get the fundamentals right first and foremost and at an early age.

Research shows that the key to numeracy is mastery of the multiplication or times table given it is cardinal to progression in maths (for division, long multiplication, algebra, fractions, percentages etc.):

” Pupils without instant recall of multiplication tables struggle in maths”  (Ofsted, 2011)

“Many low-attaining secondary pupils struggle with instant recall of tables” (Ofsted, 2011)

In fact, the study by Ofsted, the schools watchdog found that many primary schools fail to teach the times tables properly (Ofsted, 2011).

All very worrying and may go some way to explaining why Britain has sunk to near bottom of the developed world for numeracy (OECD, 2013)


Change in education law

This is why the British Government have just declared a ‘War on Innumeracy’ with the new mandate:

“Every child in Britain will have to know their times tables off by heart by 11” (Department for Education, 2015)

Ahead of tough new testing on this starting 2016 in Primary schools using against-the-clock tests with strict accountability that no child leaves without knowing their tables off by heart.

Thus, knowing off by heart the multiplication table (i.e. achieving instant recall) is absolutely crucial and evidently the difference between maths success and failure.


What about children with Dyslexia / Dyscalculia?

Mastering the times table presents a bigger challenge for children who have dyslexia and/or dyscalculia (from Greek/Latin to mean ‘counting badly’) – why?

Firstly, deciphering numbers is subject to the same conditions as letters for dyslexics but the provision of coloured overlays is concentrated on literacy which means numbers are mostly overlooked although, arguably, numeracy has a more profound impact on outcomes.

Secondly, dyslexia and dyscalculia are overlapping conditions in the majority of cases (50-60% of dyslexics have dyscalculia) whilst others have dyscalculia alone.

Developmental Dyscalculia is defined by the APA (2013) as a ‘specific learning disorder that is characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numerical magnitude and performing accurate and fluent calculations’ with prevalence at c.5% but general “‘mathematical learning difficulties’…are very prevalent and often devastating in their impact on schooling, further and higher education and jobs. Prevalence in the UK is at least 25%.” (BDA.org).

Dyscalculia can itself overlap with ADHD / ADD (BDA.org).

Thus, what help is out there for these and other Special Education Needs (SEN) learners who don’t necessarily thrive from traditional rote learning classroom methods but learn best through kinaesthetic or interactive learning?


Innovative solution

inTABS™  have psychologically developed a “revolutionary” way for dyslexia, dyscalculia, SEN children to learn their times tables off by heart in a highly effective, fun and simple manner.

inTABS™ ( short for ‘interactive tables’) Multiplication book uses special dyslexia friendly font and colours – one of the first in the country to do so, whilst the kinaesthetic or multi-sensory element uses principles of Conditioning from Psychology: repeated interactions between equations and answers on the interactive book creates powerful associations for memory and recall.

inTABS™ objective is inclusion: “every child counts” in addressing educational inequality. Their book “brings learning to life“, empowering children of all differing abilities to master the times table quickly and effectively so that they don’t struggle or fall behind in numeracy and thereby ultimately improving their life prospects.




Watch 1 minute BBC video on how the Times Table is practical skill in the real world


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