Kids Memorizing Times Tables: Why and How

If you love this content, please share it!

Should children still memorize their multiplication tables?

That’s a valid question! As a favorite meme of mine points out, we have arrived at the time in history when nearly everyone carries a calculator around with them in their pocket. Do we even need to memorize the times tables?

girl working on computer with headphones
“Burro” doing her math on the computer

Poll results about times table memorization

I conducted an informal poll on our social media accounts in May 2024. The question I posed was, “Should children still memorize their times tables?” I had over 600 people respond and dozens of comments with the reasons for their response. Here’s what the numbers said.

Poll asking "Should children still memorize their multiplication tables?
As a favorite meme of mine points out, we have arrived at the time in history when nearly everyone carries a calculator around with them in their pocket. Do we even need to memorize the times tables?"

Out of 552 votes, 93% answered Yes and 7% answered No.
Screenshot from Threads poll
Screenshot from TikTok video asking "Should kids have to memorize their times tables?" in which 78% of respondents chose Yes and 22% chose No.
Screenshot of TikTok video

Reasons why kids should memorize their times tables

Many people gave their reasons why they felt that it should be required for kids to memorize the times tables. Here are some of the responses.

Easier and faster than a calculator

“Yes, but not until after they have a solid understanding of what multiplication actually means. Memorization will make other work they do with multiplication easier down the road and is still faster than pulling out a phone calculator any time they need it, but is not good if they don’t have the full understanding of when, why, and how multiplication works. (Honestly same with any math skills. Don’t teach shortcuts and tricks until you know the math is solidly understood)”

Text says "Times tables and quick arithmetic facts can help a lot with doing simple math out in the wild quickly! (I don’t stress like, long division though)"
Screenshot from Threads poll

“It’s just soooo much faster to know basic multiplication. You use it a lot in daily life and it would be so annoying to have to grab your phone calculator every single time. For example, even just to figure out things like “approximately how much would it cost for all four of us to go see this film” or “if this bus comes 6 times per hour, approximately how long would we need to wait?” It’s not worth grabbing a calculator app for all those regular approximations, but so useful to just know.”

“It’s so much faster to just know the answer than it is to pull out your phone and check every time you need to multiply something.”

Printer showing Costco price tag.
Price comparisons are easier with mental math skills

Helps with number sense

“Yes. It helps in the understand of math and numbers in general. It makes me sad every time someone uses their calculator to arrive at an obviously incorrect answer and doesn’t understand that it’s obviously incorrect. Being able to do head math and think for yourself is also important for avoiding misinformation-for instance, just had Al tell me that 400m people were native English speakers and that was 20% of the world’s population.”

“Absolutely. 30+ yo and I am not gifted in math or even proficient. Memorizing 1s through 12s has helped me uncountable times to remember simple multiplications or guesstimating prices- more so as my chronic illness has taken over and brain fog happens more often.”

Abacus on a countertop

Social judgment

“If someone gets asked what 6 x 7 is and they go for their calculator, everyone else will make certain non complimentary assumptions about that person.”

Helps with other subjects like chemistry

“Chemistry teacher here, yes! And make them understand fractions and how to factor. Makes chem so much easier.”

“I think this would be akin to asking if you should teach history, if they can just look up everything? This could go for any topic. A well rounded education teaches more than just facts, it teaches critical thinking and problem solving.”

Our son working on math worksheet in the car.

“I do math faster than the kassasystem. I can work when the power is out when you pay cash. There is a place to use math without a calculator. Simple stuff should be done without a calculator.”

Helpful for higher math and learning new concepts

“As a retired math prof I would just say it makes higher level math much easier, enabling them to focus on new concepts without getting hung up on old ones. It makes it easier to see certain relationships and possibilities for simplification. Could they survive without it, yes. But why not set them up to thrive?”

Measuring cups in a basket

“Yes, basic multiplication facts really are essential for every other kind of math later.”

“We will be teaching our 3 children (3rd grade, 8th grade, 12th grade) times tables this summer….as much as we can. The schools never bothered and it has greatly slowed them down in doing other types of math, such as algebra and geometry. It’s also useful for budgeting and other practical applications.”

Use times tables every day, in all areas of life

Text says "I refer to my mental times table at least daily, usually more often. I've tried to stress things like being able to quickly calculate a tip, or change a recipe."
Screenshot from Threads poll

“I find it a very useful life skill to be able to quickly count things or work with prices using these sorts of memories without having to pull out a calculator. Trains the brain in helpful ways too. Whether it’s best to memorise or whether it’s better to learn the tables through activities and use though, l’m not sure. Not quite convinced about the value of simply memorising, but then perhaps it has its place.”

Black Casio digital calculator

“Yes-I still use that skill at 76!”

“I would choose a curriculum and that aims at building an understanding of multiplication first, but then absolutely add in memorization once they have the concept down. Knowing those facts makes things so much easier for them later on. Yes we have calculators, but math is easier if you don’t need to use a calculator for every step.”

Helps build brain skills

Text says "The reason I said yes is there are connections made in the brain that are activated by memorization such as times tables, so I believe it is an important skill. I was just listening to a psychologist talking about how rhythm and order impact a lot of things including dealing with difficult circumstances when they arise in life. That being said, when one of our sons had some learning challenges we used all kinds of games to learn skills not just rote memorization.The pathways created by a variety of methods also helped with other executive functions.”
Screenshot from Facebook poll comment

“My 9 yr old – 4th grader loves math and they did learn the times tables in school. I think it’s beneficial but not all the kids are great at it. She was one of the few or the only one who completed her multiplication quizzes up to 12.”

“Times tables are a struggle here but I do think it’s important because it helps with mental math.”

Reasons not to require times table memorization

Several people who voted “No” gave reasons why they didn’t think kids should be required to memorize the times tables. Here are their reasons.

Text says: "“We never sat down and
"memorized" times tables. We spend time in multiplication but proof of memorization has never been part of the curriculum I put together for my kids.
I'm an adult and never memorized my times tables. I had a successful career in the financial industry for 20 years.
My oldest son is a Marine and did exceptionally well on his entry and placement tests. He did not menorize his times tables. He may have had a few memorized from repetition through his math curriculum but that's the extent.
Memorization is important for a healthy brain so we focus our time and energy elsewhere”"
Screenshot from Facebook poll

“We tried to memorize them with ours: I tried, her tutors tried. She has a mental block when it comes to memorizing facts, she has issues with addition as well. We have had her tested since and found she has a learning disability that directly effects that, so we have made sure she can do the work to figure it out. Plus she does have a calculator in her pocket if she ever needs. Yes, memorizing them is helpful but not the be all and end all. Just my two cents.”

My experience as a homeschool mom

I gave this some real thought when my first child hit 3rd grade, the age when I learned my times tables in public school. As a first time homeschool mom, I did a lot of rethinking and re-evaluating the things I was required to learn as a public school kid.

There was a lot of educational information that I was required to memorize, but then never used again. Have I ever again needed to know the chemical formula for sucrose? And when was the last time I needed to identify the subjunctive tense in English?

On the other hand, there were many things that I had memorized simply because I had to use them so often. Repeated use and relevance is what made most of my Spanish language reading skills stick around.

When I began cooking regularly, it didn’t take long for me to memorize the fact that a cup is eight ounces or three teaspoons make a tablespoon.

various mathematical tables in book
Composition books still have the multiplication table on the inside back cover

When you use information all the time, it’s much easier to memorize and retain the information.

So to return to the question of whether it’s worth it to memorize the times tables, I waited awhile before deciding whether to require it. I allowed my oldest to move forward in Math without specifically requiring her to memorize the multiplication tables.

I thought that if she constantly used them, she would eventually memorize them without giving it much effort. This proved false. My daughter ended up taking much longer to complete lessons because she spent so much time trying to look up or recall from memory basic multiplication facts.

The other thing I remembered from my own school experience was that if your child ever needs to take any math above the high school level, having the multiplication tables memorized is a necessity. Yes, you can use a calculator, but it takes a lot longer to type in the question than it does to recall the correct answer from memory!

girl using computer with cat companion
Our daughter does her Teaching Textbooks Math program while her kitty keeps her company.

I determined that it was time for my daughter to conquer the challenge. As a busy homeschool mom with several children who need my attention throughout the day, I am always on the lookout for ways to make something easier. Here’s what works for our family.

Our easy way to teach the multiplication tables

Provide motivation

We start the process by allowing my child to take a week or two off of their standard math lessons. They can totally focus on memorizing the times tables.

We get them a big Pound Plus Chocolate Bar from Trader Joe’s and tell them that it will be theirs as soon as they can write down all the times tables correctly from memory. I don’t worry about timing the test, because I know that as they continue to practice, speed will naturally pick up.

Success! She finished learning her times tables!

Use several learning modalities

We have had the best success with having our children watch the Schoolhouse Rock Multiplication Rock videos*. The combination of music and the video presentation helps to cement the facts in their mind.

They watch through the videos a couple of times each day, with special emphasis on the ones that are harder to remember. (*NOTE: Disney owns Schoolhouse Rock, and they are currently available on Disney+ as part of the subscription – a worthwhile short-term investment, in my opinion!)

@dinkumtribe We aren’t a flash cards family. So rather than spending hours teaching my kids the times tables, I give them the resources (SchoolHouse Rock videos, charts, etc) and offer an incentive when they are memorized. It’s worked well for my oldest 4 kids.@dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #homeschoolmom #homeschoolhacks #mathhacks #multiplicationtricks #timestables #homeschoolfamily #homeschoolkids #adhdhomeschool #adhdhomeschooling #adhdhomeschooler ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Then when they think they are ready, I let them fill out a times table chart. Tip: tons of time table charts are available online for free – just Google “free printable times tables”.

If my child gets all their facts right, I hand them the chocolate bar and take a picture of them with it. Yay! Time to celebrate!

If there’s a few wrong, I let them watch the videos for a few more days. Then we retake the test.  

Our son working on math worksheets.

Some of my kids have found it helpful to supplement the videos by practicing with a sibling using flashcards. Others have written them out by hand multiple times.

I know some other homeschool families who have found that Times Tales worked really well for their children, though I don’t have personal experience with those videos myself.

Whatever works!

Some kids need motion to cement learning.

The important thing for me was that my kids could learn them effectively and with little direction or help from me. If a kid wants to say the facts out loud while bouncing on a trampoline, I let them.

I have three kids with ADHD, and they have often taken creative approaches to learning. Everyone learns differently, so I give them the freedom and motivation to do it and then cheer them on.

This year it’s time for my oldest son to learn his multiplication tables. Looks like I need to get over to Trader Joe’s for some chocolate!

How do you help your kids learn their times tables? Share what worked for you in the comments so that others can learn too!

© Copyright 2021 Jennifer D. Warren. Updated and expanded May 21, 2024.

Pinnable image for Kids Memorizing Times Tables: Why and How.
Pin this for later.
Pinnable image for Kids Memorizing Times Tables: Why and How.
Pin this for later.

If you love this content, please share it!

About the author

I’m Jenn Warren, Co-Founder and Content Creator for Dinkum Tribe. I'm a Third Culture Kid (TCK) from Jamaica and California, married to my college sweetheart. I've been a missionary kid, pastor’s kid and (former) pastor’s wife. My husband and I traveled as pastors for 12 years throughout the United States and Canada before becoming travel content creators.

I love living in Oregon and exploring new places with my family. We’ve road tripped over 30,000 miles across the United States and Western Canada with our six children since their infancy. Prior to our marriage, I also lived in Spain for a summer and spent another summer in Mexico.

I’ve homeschooled our six children for over 10 years, and served on the board of a homeschool co-op for 4 years. Several members of our family are neurodivergent (gifted, ADHD, cPTSD), and I’ve spent 5+ years learning how to accommodate neurodivergent needs as well as supporting the resultant mental health challenges (anxiety, depression).

I’ve also served as a support group leader and co-director of Pure Life Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports families struggling with sexual addiction.

I write about family travel and road trips, millennial marriage, general parenting, homeschooling, parenting neurodivergent children, grief, and abuse recovery.


  1. I think memorization is still important. I don’t like relying on technology for ANYTHING, and you never know when you’ll need to multiply! 😊 We do it a lot at the store while grocery shopping and searching for deals.

  2. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that kids aren’t required to memorize the times tables anymore. It’s just a sign of the times. I know I personally use it often and prefer to not have to use my phone every time.

    1. That was my eventual conclusion as well – I included the discussion for others who might be wondering. It’s kind of like the cursive question. Learning cursive might not be technically NECESSARY, but is is certainly useful and builds skills that are used in other areas. Thanks for your comment!

  3. HI Jenn

    Multiplication is a tricky concept for students of this age. One creative way to teach them is using multiplication games: a great form of game-based learning that helps kids understand and practice their multiplication tables.


    1. Absolutely! Games work great for many challenging concepts, and we have used them from time to time. As a parent of multiple kids, I needed some things that required less direct parent involvement, so that’s why I recommend most of these options. For parents who love games, or have time to engage their kids in games to learn math regularly, I say, have at it! 🙂

Comments are closed.