By Maureen Stearns

Imagine the summer is over and school’s back in session. It’s eight o-clock at night, and many parents are dealing with their children’s relentless homework struggles. “We’re learning multiplication,” your child sobs, “and I , don’t , understand , it!”

Meanwhile, teachers are struggling too. “My students just can’t seem to learn multiplication!” they lament. And the stakes are high. They know their students’ mastery of multiplication can make or break the math assessment scores.

Teaching multiplication does not have to be painful or battle time for parents, teachers or students.

In order to master multiplication, it’s beneficial for struggling students to find a strategy that’s logical, tactile, visually understandable, and that does not rely on memorization because too often what students have memorized, they forget.

In elementary school many students understand most math concepts, but when it comes time to learn the “times tables’, they often seem to get hung up. Knowing their multiplication facts is vital in order for students to go on to higher-level math concepts such as long division. If they don’t get a grasp on multiplication, the struggle begins. Students then despise math and avoid it at homework time.

There is a method that can teach a child how to multiply, literally, in just 5 minutes. It’s a special technique that uses short vertical and horizontal lines and a counting system called Sticks and Steps®. While mainly helping those who struggle with memorization, this unique method also benefits those who can memorize but don’t know conceptually what multiplication is all about.

Multiplication can be thought of as a layer upon layer of the same number added together. This method is based on that concept. If a student can count, then they can multiply and get the right answer every time. The process employs a system of touching and repeated counting. This touching and sayinga multi-sensory approachis considered the best way for students to think, understand, and remember.

About the Author:

Maureen Stearns is an Exceptional Student Education, who has worked extensively with struggling learners. She is the author of the book,  Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps®. She teaches and resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.


Jennifer Cummings

Ms. Cummings, author, and editor of the Education and School Section, she has a psychology and an M.Ed. in special education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts. She was an elementary teacher in Massachusetts serving both regular education and special education students. She has taught grades 1,4, and 5.

"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings. CummingsGeneral EducationActivities for Kids,Ages and Stages,Cooking and Recipes,School and EducationBy Maureen Stearns Imagine the summer is over and school's back in session. It's eight o-clock at night, and many parents are dealing with their children's relentless homework struggles. 'We're learning multiplication,' your child sobs, 'and I , don't , understand , it!' ...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids