Dear Parents and Carers,
In June, all Year 4 pupils will be taking part in a multiplication tables check (MTC). This check is statutory and will be completed by all Year 4 pupils throughout England. The MTC lasts for no more that 5 minutes, and will be completed within a 3 week period in the Summer term. Please see below for more information. If you have any questions regarding the check, please contact the school at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a ring and we will get back to you.
What is the check?
The multiplication tables check is an online test for pupils in Year 4. Pupils are asked to answer 25 questions on times tables from two to 12. They are given six seconds per question, with three seconds rest between each question, so the test should last less than five minutes.
Questions about the six, seven, eight, nine, and 12 times tables are likely to come up most often, as these are the hardest for most children to learn. It’s a good idea to focus on these tricky times tables with your child at home.
First and foremost, the check is about finding out which children are struggling with their times tables so that they can get extra support. It is not a judgement on what your child can do, but a way for us to know how our teaching is going and to adjust our focus if needed.
“Leaving primary school with a fundamental grasp of basic numeracy is as important as leaving being able to read. And just as the phonics check has helped more children learn to read, this will ensure more pupils know their times tables.”
When is the check going to happen?
In June 2020, every school would have been required by law to take part in the check, but these were cancelled due to school closures. The testing for this academic year, which will be for Year 4 pupils only, will be from Monday 8th June for a testing window of 3 weeks.
What is school doing to help your child prepare?
In school we are focusing on quick recall using a series of methods. Pupils are able to count in multiples using rote learning (e.g. 8 times tables: 8, 16, 24, 32….); they are encouraged to make links between other times tables (e.g. 5 x 4 and 4 x 5 have the same answer); Speed Grids are used to help set individual targets; Superhero Maths tests are used frequently, which help the pupils progress in an structured and gradual manner; and finally TT Rockstars, an online resource where pupils can challenge themselves or their fellow pupils.
How can you help your child prepare?
Little and often! The best way to keep the test stress-free is to work some times tables practice into your daily routine well in advance. With regular practice, your child will get used to tackling these kind of questions with confidence.
If your child is feeling nervous in the approach to the check, don’t panic. Here are five top tips for helping your child learn their times tables, which will get them up to speed:
1. Use times table wall charts
Wall charts show all the answers for a particular times table. You could download a free times table wall charts [PDF] and stick them up somewhere they’ll be seen often. For instance, you could put them over the sink so that your child will see them when they’re brushing their teeth. You’ll be amazed how quickly they learn when they see these number facts every day!
2. Learn the tricks for difficult times tables
There are clever tricks for remembering several of the times tables. For instance, watch Andrew Jeffrey’s method for tackling the seven times table below:
For more ideas, download this free times tables booklet [PDF], which is full of tips and hints for overcoming some of the harder times tables.
3. Play times tables games
Games and challenges are a great way to support learning, and a few minutes a day will make all the difference. Why not play snap with some times tables flashcards, matching the sums to the answers as fast as you can? Or you could surprise your child by asking times tables questions at random times during the day and seeing how quickly they can respond (this works particularly well as a competition between siblings or friends).
Using games keeps practice short and sweet, and makes the process much less of a chore for you and your child. Some fun activities and suggestions can be found here
4. Make it real
If your child can’t see any point in learning their times tables, try showing them how this knowledge is useful in everyday life. Instead of just rote learning their times tables, try to create opportunities for your child to use multiplication in problem solving.
For example, ask them to scale up a recipe or calculate whether they have enough money to buy more of their favourite things (such as sweets or football cards). This will help your child see the value of their learning.
5. Practise on the computer
Help your child become comfortable reading and answering questions on a screen. All pupils have a log on to TTRockstars (which can be viewed online or via the free app). TTRockstars helps pupils to learn their tables in a fun and engaging way. Another super game is Hit the Button, where pupils can focus on specific times tables which they are working on in school. A further website which will help pupils to become familiar with the overall format of the check is the Multiplication Tables Check website (link below):