So with second grade comes the start of more complicated math. No longer are the days of 2+2=4. We are diving into multiplication, division, borrowing, carrying, fractions, time, money, etc. It’s more complicated and more intimidating to even think of tackling and teaching such concepts.

While I am absolutely not an expert at all in teaching or teaching math, I have been doing so for this school year and I have come up with some ways that have really worked for us. We use the Christopherus Waldorf 2nd Grade Math Curriculum but these tips go beyond what is written in the math curriculum.

Over time I have realized that the lingo or way of talking greatly changes the game as to whether or not your child will understand any concept. Simple word changes can help them greatly. For example, instead of keeping with the typical math lingo of ” what is 4 divided by 2?”, you can say ” Lets skip count by 2’s and see how many fingers we need to get to 4″. In the end, they needed only 2 fingers to get to 4. When teaching borrowing, I like to say ” oh no! we don’t have enough fingers to take 5 away from 2, so we must borrow 1 from 3 and give it to the 2, etc….” I guess you could say this is dumbing it down, but I think of it as simplifying it and making it easier to understand. These choice words become their inner talk when it’s time for them to tackle the problems on their own.

Coming up with concepts or simple stories has really helped as well. When teaching multiplication for example, because this is what this post is mainly about, I have come up with patterns and techniques to teach them. Counting by 4’s, 8’s, or 9’s, can be quite difficult for any child (hell, even I don’t remember my 8’s), so coming up with tricks to learn them is always the best.

A little trick I discovered when teaching the girls their 4’s and 8’s was the cool fact that each of those times tables has a pattern which rotates and starts over after 5. I have taught them to use their hands, and for the 4’s counting the five rotation is 4, 8, 2, 6, 0. Every number in the 4’s times tables ends in those numbers in that order and once you get to zero, you start again at 4. The 8’s is the same way with a five finger rotation of 8, 6, 4, 2, 0 which starts over again back to 8 once you get to that zero. The girls hold up their hand and say their times tables this way. It has taken them only a few days to get this concept down and now they know them!

The problems that they did have with learning this concept was knowing when to change to the next group, such as going from 28 to 32 in the 4’s. I simply told them that they couldn’t count backwards and what comes after 2? 3! What comes after 3? 4! This may seem more confusing, but it worked for them!

Another multiplication tip I have used when teaching them their 9’s is if you write down the 9’s times tables vertically you will see that the tens column counts up while the one’s column counts down. I’ll show you here: 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, etc. One number goes up, while one goes down. It even works when you get into the 100’s.

I have also taught them the finger trick with the 9’s times tables. I’m sure this is more known but many people (adults) never heard of that trick before I told them so I will put it here. You hold up your ten fingers. If you want to know what 9 x 3 is, you put your third finger down (counting from your left pinkie). The two fingers before your 3rd downed finger is the 2 in the 20, and the seven fingers that come after your 3rd finger is the 7 in the 27. Your answer is 27. It works for 9-90. After that you are on your own!

Of course their are other tricks out there like how the 11’s are just double digits. I know over time I will see more patterns and come up with more ways of teaching the girls, so I will be sure to pop back in to share those with you. Some of these may be new to you or you may know them all already, but it’s pretty cool to discover patterns and tricks on your own!

Thanks for checking in!

[…] We really took time to practice borrowing and they have done pretty well with it. They still need practice as Hailey keeps forgetting to take one away and is adding one when we borrow from the next column, but I know with some more practice she will remember. We also really focused on time telling and the girls are really getting that too. We also continued our skip counting and multiplication using my new found techniques. […]