I wanted to share something that has changed a big part of our life recently. As most of you know, we home educate Sullivan. This is a genuine pleasure to experience 99.9% of the time but the 0.1% that has been really getting us down recently has been multiplication, more specifically times tables.
Surely if we home educate, we shouldn’t have to be worrying about stuff like that right now, you might think. Lots of educating otherwise families do choose to stay away from more traditional classroom style learning and national curriculum guidelines, to some extent, we do too… but we are also very passionate about being child-led. Sullivan himself has been wanting to move on with mathematics for some time but was feeling very frustrated that he couldn’t master times tables. I took it upon myself to try and find ways to help him, as my own way of learning them (I had trouble with base mathematics after missing many basic primary level lessons due to hospitalisation and illness) were not working for him and neither were the classic chant repetitions, workbooks or online apps, tips and tricks I’d found. I tried to get him to take a step back and to think about approaching multiplication a few months down the line but he wanted to keep working on them. The frustration was bringing negativity in to learning time which is something I strive to avoid. That’s when I came across Times Fables.
Mentioned in one of the Home Education groups I am part of, the name instantly grabbed my attention, followed by the equally impressive plethora of positive recommendations from fellow members. Intrigued, I looked up the book on Amazon where I was told it was available for purchase and had a look through the description and other mostly glowing reviews.
The book introduces bright and cleverly designed characters which represent the numbers 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9. These characters are then woven into short and memorable stories which, without the reader even really realising, turn in to times table calculations and answers. The idea of this is that the reader can then simply remember which characters relate to which numbers in a sum, remember back to which story features those two characters and remember the ‘answer’. It’s a little complicated to explain but Times Fable author Jessie Wilson explains the concept and her inspiration for creating the book brilliantly over on Institute Of Mums. There are some example illustrations too which will really give you a feel for how the book works.
As you may have noticed, there are some key numbers missing. This book is to help tackle the trickier to remember multiplication problems. I was a little worried about this at first, as Sullivan is Autistic and can often get distressed when things aren’t in the correct order or things are left out. He was also struggling with ALL times tables so I was a little concerned with him learning just the ones in the book (how on Earth could I get him to be comfortable with the others if they weren’t stories in the book?) but all of my worries were eradicated from the moment we started reading.
Sullivan took to Times Fables like a duck to water. My mind was blown, I’ll happily admit. He adored reading the short stories. He grasped the characters quickly and the fact they were helping him solve multiplication problems he’d been too anxious to even look at let alone answer, was so empowering for him. It took away his fear and replaced it with fun. He was engaged, happy and proud of himself. By day three of reading, he had mastered most of his times tables and was able to answer sums given to him verbally and on paper in any order. This… this is the way learning should be done! Please don’t think I’m knocking traditional chant learning or any other ways you may have discovered worked for you or your children, I’m simply so stoked that something exists out there that my son and kids with similar learning pathways to him can learn from and enjoy.
I noticed whilst browsing on Amazon that there were a small amount of less positive views about the book. I think it’s important to remember this won’t work for everyone. That’s what education is on a whole, really. There is no One Size Fits All when it comes to learning which is how Times Fables came to life, however, if your child is struggling with learning times tables then I think taking a shot on a £7.99 book which doubles up as a lovely set of mini-stories anyway is definitely worth it.
As a side note, I mentioned before Sullivan was struggling to work with 2, 5 and 10 times tables (which aren’t worked with in Times Fables) and I was worried how I’d approach learning these with him. Well, I can’t really explain it. Once his worries of the mammoth task of times table memorising had faded, he was able to focus and see the patterns and comparisons to counting in 2’s, 5’s and 10’s which has been doing since preschool age and it just all clicked in to place for him.
I really hope this book can continue to provide a revolutionary and fun-filled way of times table learning to people for years to come. It deserves so much recognition and I’d like to personally thank the author Jessie Wilson for creating it. The difference Times Fables has made to Sullivan’s confidence and abilities is fantastic and I will forever recommend it to anyone of any age. I’d love to know what you think of Times Fables below if you’ve purchased this book previously (or what you think of it if you purchase it after reading this post!). In the interest of transparency, this post is not sponsored. I purchased the book myself independently and have no financial gain from this blog post.