Whether your child is a bit behind on their math or you want to help them get ahead of the class, you can really improve their basic math skills with one simple trick: set hard to memorize math facts to music.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that my twins were both still struggling with some of their multiplication and division problems, even though we’d been over them all several times. They could work things out on paper, given enough time, but the some of the answers to simple multiplication and division problems they should have had memorized just didn’t click.

That’s when I realized I’d need to take a different approach if I wanted my kids to commit those math facts to long-term memory, where they’d have easy access to them, quickly, for years to come. After all, higher level math is pretty hard to do if you have to stop and add up numbers on paper because you can’t remember how much eight times six is in your head.

**The Looney Tunes approach**

When thinking of songs to which I could set the trickier multiplication tables, some of the best were the classical tunes I’d heard all my life on cartoons. Classical music, catchy and timeless, was the perfect score to the mathematical songs I needed to write.

Setting the multiples of seven to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” I knew I had a hit.

Seven, fourteen, twenty-one, twenty-eight and thirty-five.

Forty-two, forty-nine, fifty-six and sixty-three.

Seventy, seventy-seven, let’s sing them all one more time.

Seven, fourteen, twenty-one, twenty-eight and thirty-five.

**Works well with all ages**

I wasn’t surprised that this method worked well with my older kids. I’d used music to help memorize such things as the periodic table of elements and the state capitals when I was a student, so I knew that adding an auditory element was effective. But it wasn’t long until my youngest was singing her math facts, too, and she wasn’t even adding yet.

I set the multiples of eight to the centuries old nursery tune, “Frère Jacques,” or “Are You Sleeping?” It was a tune my children had listened to from their days in the cradle, and one which fit the numbers well.

Eight, sixteen,

Twenty-four,

Thirty-two,

Forty.

Forty-eight,

Fifty-six,

Sixty-four,

Seventy-two.

**Success!**

By incorporating classical tunes into our math lessons, my kids soon memorized even the most complicated multiplication tables, and were ready to move on to more complicated math. After just a while, when they’d run into trouble on a multiplication or division problem, all I needed to do was hum a few notes of a familiar tune and they’d have the answer.

Many existing math programs marketed to parents today incorporate music, but they don’t always use tunes that kids recognize. I used the classical songs that are already running through my head, the ones I might not remember the name of easily, but the tunes of which are already embedded deeply in my mind. And now, they’re embedded in my kids’ minds, and connected to math facts with neural pathways that will keep the information close at hand.

*More by Tavia:*

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Using Games to Teach Math Skills

Help Your Child Build Speedy Math Skills