Tips For Teaching Multiplication to Elementary Students

By Huntington Learning Center

After addition and subtraction instruction comes multiplication, which can be harder for some children to learn. Mastering multiplication requires both memorization and comprehension of strategy. Here are a few tips for helping your elementary students build a solid foundation: 

  • Build math fact fluency. Practice makes better! Give students daily opportunities to become proficient at the math facts, starting with the easy ones first (2s, 10s, 5s) and building up to more challenging facts (4s, 3s, 9s, 6s, 7s, 8s). Flashcards and apps can help, and there are lots of math facts songs out there for your audio learners.  
  • Explain the concept of math as extended addition. Multiplication of whole numbers is adding the same number several times. Help students build this understanding by assigning a tangible item to one of the numbers in a multiplication problem. For example, with 3 x 4, the 3 could be cars and the 4 is the number of groups of cars. Walk your students through this step by step:
    • 3 x 4 is the same as 3 cars in 4 different groups 
    • 3 x 4 = 3 cars + 3 cars + 3 cars + 3 cars
    • 3 x 4 = 3 + 3 + 3 + 3
    • 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12
    • So, 3 x 4 = 12
  • Help children visualize the commutative property of multiplication. Once children realize that the order of the numbers they are multiplying doesn’t change the product (answer), multiplication becomes much simpler. This means that 2 x 7 will have the same answer as 7 x 2. Use worksheets and tangible tools that help your students visualize this. 

Of course, understanding multiplication requires that your students also understand addition and subtraction. If you find a student struggling with basic math, Huntington can assist. We’ll help your students build the right math skills to be capable of advancing to more complex math. Refer parents to 1-800 CAN LEARN today!