A bright and cheerful nine year old explained in consummate detail, yesterday, how she learnt her tables. She is attending a dyslexic teacher – and coming to us for Eleven Plus enrichment. (The girl is dyslexic – not the teacher!)
We know she still has some problems with sequencing – and remembering her tables - but her teacher had suggested a solution to her problem. She explained it to me. I did not quite grasp the method immediately – but the girl’s mother reiterated the following steps in almost identical words. I wrote down a summary. If there are gaps please let me know and I will fill them in.
Hold your hands out with the palms towards you. (This is where the girl laughed: “Make sure your hands are clean.”)
The thumb on your left hand, and on your right hand, is the number six.
Your index finger is the number seven.
Your middle finger is the number eight.
Then the fourth finger is the number nine.
While the fifth finger, the little finger, is the number ten.
If the sum is 8 x 7, the third finger of one hand is the number 8. Place this against the index finger of the other hand. This finger represents the number 7.
The figure for the tens column is given by counting the number of fingers – including the two fingers that are touching. In this case it is the number 5.
The units column is obtained by multiplying the remaining fingers on one hand by the remaining fingers on the other hand. This gives 2 times 3 which is 6.
The answer is 56.
A very large proportion of Eleven Plus children will be able to remember their tables fairly easily.
7 times 8 = 56
8 times 7 = 56
56 divided by 7 = 8
56 divided by 8 = 7
I did not like to ask how the little nine year old mentioned earlier would cope with the division facts when she used her finger method. Difficulties with calculation must, at times, make life complicated for a dyslexic child.
The rest of us need to be thankful for small mercies!