Do Kindergarteners learn multiplication?

26 September (Thursday), 2013

271013Times Table

It is highly unusual to teach multiplication at Kindergartens. If a kindergartener can memorise multiplication tables, they are simply memorizing them just as a 3-year old does if she or he can remember 4-letter word such as “love”.

Does it make sense?


If adults were to pressurize children to learn a subject hard by memory work, they will rob their child of one learning opportunity – that is the ability to make sense. It is very important that children:

1.  Learn to make sense

2.  Have a belief system in themselves that they can learn to figure things out by their own abilities.  They will become less reliant on adults and reduce their feeling of helplessness when handling challenging mathematical tasks.

The ideas embedded within a multiplication content, however, can be explored at the kindergarten level. Jerome Bruner’s theory about free play before structural learning can be applied to introduce multiplication to kindergarteners.

For examples:

Use of concrete materials

Supply 6 cups to a child with 2 candies placed in each cup. Let child counts how many candies are there altogether in the 6 cups.

Use of pictorial cards

Show picture of 5 stems.  On each stem, two leaves branch out from it. Let child counts and tell how many leaves are there altogether on all 5 stems.


Parents who wish to prepare their children for multiplication work at the primary level will benefit from Dr Yeap’s sharing about the 4 basic meanings to multiplication.

1.     Equal Groups



There are 5 plates of 4 cookies.  How many cookies are there altogether?

2.  Multiplicative Comparison

27102013Ihave as many


I have 2 time as many apples than you have 3.  So how many apples

do I have?

Dr Yeap highlighted on a common error used in verbalising “4 times as many”.  It is wrong and confusing to say “four times more than” because it doesn’t imply the function of “comparing”.

3.  Area Measurement



There are 7 squares in a row and there are 4 rows.  What is the area

of this rectangle?

To get the answer, the child may count to add the 4 rows of squares or the child may multiply them (4 rows x 7 squares).  This is also known as the Array Model where the arrangement of content is placed in a rectangular array.

4.  Combination



An outfit for a teddy bear consists of a jacket and a pair of pants.  I have 4 different pairs of pants and 3 jackets.  How many ways can I dress up a teddy bear?  All in all,  there are 4 times 3 ways of dressing up the teddy bear.


So have we made some sense into our thinking when we ponder over the meanings of multiplication?  Do children really need to learn multiplication tables by hard?  Here is a video where Ms Emma McCrea gives her children the time to figure out different ways of working out counting by adding in groups.


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