I have an eight year old son in third grade. We have recently started working on multiplication. After about ten minutes of working on multiplication my son announced to me, “This is stupid. I will never ever have any use for this. I am not going to learn it ever.”
First I tried to explain how much multiplication will make his life easier. I talked to him about how he can figure out how much it will cost to buy five packs of rocket motors instead of buying just one. (Rockets are his most favorite thing ever.) But he said he could just add them up. No matter how I tried to explain things, he just wasn’t buying it. Multiplication is just stupid. I decided to let it settle for a few days.
We were riding in the car the other day and I said, “Let’s play a game.” How much is 1 times 0? He thought for a minute and said “One.” I told him 1 times 0 is 0. I explained, “If you have nothing and you have one of it, you still have nothing. No matter how many times you have nothing, you still have nothing. So then I asked him, “How much is 2 times 0?” He thought for a minute and then said, “O”. I praised him for having the right answer. Then I started asking him, “How much is 10 times 0?” “How much is 27 times 0?” “How much is 359 times 0?” “How much is 9,387 times 0?” He kept saying 0 every time. He finally understood that 0 times anything is 0. So we moved on to 1 times 1. Then 1 times 89. 1 times 8,362. Every time he gave the right answer. I think he may be starting to understand this multiplication thing.
During our actual School time, I have skipped multiplication. But we practice it in the car. When he has a little better grasp of it, we will go back to it during School time. So far he understands 0 times, 1 times, 2 times, 5 times, and 11 times.