As early as Grade R, children will be introduced to bonds. These are the pairs of numbers that add up to a certain total. For instance, the bonds for 6 are 0+6, 1+5, 2+4, 3+3, 4+2, 5+1, 6+0.
They're next introduced to the concept of "groups of", until they start translating these into tables (5x4=20).
“There is no way around it, learning bonds and tables are where auditory, memory and repetition play a big role. They need to be practised daily, 4 or 5 sums a day,” says Kim Lowman, founder of Brain Train.
Make tables and bonds part of everyday life
Where parents can definitely play a role is showing how tables and bonds can be applied to real life. Say you are going on holiday and want to take enough of your child’s yoghurts so that she can have two a day for the 7 days you are on holiday. Get her to work out how many must be packed. It is also important to ensure that your child doesn’t only know what 5x7 is just because it follows 4X7 and she’s memorised it thus.
Once she knows the table or bond, mix it up. Get her to say it backwards, or ask tables at random.
Games you could play
To relieve the boredom, it is a good idea to make the learning of tables and bonds into a game. Heather Davies suggests a game of leap frog:
- Make up A4 cards with the relevant table or bond (and later mix it up). So if you were doing bonds of 10 you would have 6+4, 9+1, 3+7 and so on.
- Scatter the cards on the ground.
- Your child has to jump onto each card, saying the bond or table and then the answer.
- If the answer is correct, the card is picked up. If the answer is incorrect, the card stays on the ground and your child has to go back to it.
- Your child wins when there are no more cards on the ground.
Alternatively Heather advocates making tables and bonds into a card game:
- Make up cards with the table or bond on them (the question card) and put them in a pile face down.
- Make up separate corresponding answer cards and lay them out face up.
- Your child draws a question card from the pile, and says the question e.g. 6+4 equals ...
- She must then pick out the appropriate answer card and say out loud the correct answer.
- If the answer is correct, she gets to keep the pair; if the answer is incorrect she has to put the card back.
- Play against your child: the competition is to see who has the most pairs at the end.
Do you have other tips and tricks to help kids learn and understand maths? Or languages or science? Send your tips to email@example.com and we may publish them.