THE PREREQUISITES FOR MULTIPLICATION : The word 'multiply', used in ordinary language, bears the meaning 'increase enormously For instance, bacteria multiply in favourable conditions. In the context of arithmetic, the meaning of 'multiply' is more precise. It still refers to an increase, but to what extent depends on the numbers involved. The operation of multiplication requires us to repeatedly add a number to itself a certain number of times. For instance, 4 multiplied by 3 is 4+4+4. Therefore, to begin the process of teaching multiplication, it is necessary that the children are somewhat familiar with the addition process. Of course, it is not necessary for them to have mastered addition before they begin multiplication. If they have begun to feel comfortable with addition and have understood what it means in simple contexts, then the process of learning of multiplication can be begun. The learning of addition would continue alongside, and both these would support each other.
How should we introduce children to multiplication? This concept is usually presented for the first time to children of Class 2 (of the age group 6 or 7) as a series of unrelated facts, to be learnt by heart. This is why the 9-year-old who had calculated 28 x 3 couldn't immediately tell me what 29 x 3 was.
How can we help children discover what multiplication really is? To do this, we need to be clear about what the prerequisite skills are. Apart from understanding additional, children should be able to make groups of equal sizes, and be able to add such groups, before being formally introduced to multiplication.
We have already discussed ways of teaching children addition in previous sections here we shall discuss ways of developing the two other abilities, one by one.