Joseph asked me the other day,
"Are two tens twenty?"
I barely had time to answer before he was counting his fingers to confirm it for himself and then counting to see how many 5's there are in twenty. We soon established by simply looking at our hands that there were four fives in twenty, which then led Joseph to wonder how many fours made twenty, and after a bit more finger counting we had the answer.
Joseph doesn't know what times tables are, or that in answering these questions for himself he was beginning to understand them. The Education Secretary tells us that children need to learn times tables by rote, and that certain times tables should be mastered by particular ages. I think I learned my two times table first, but the fact that Joseph has gone for the 10s and 5s seems to make perfect sense when you can look down and see them on your fingers and toes.
I've no idea what motivated Joseph to ask those questions but something triggered his interest, and so he has taken another step on the adventure that is numbers! Maybe he just looked at his hands and realised! I don't remember most of my times tables by rote, but I don't have any problem working them out when I need to.
I find it wonderful that even times tables can be stumbled upon while playing at home doing nothing that looks remotely like classroom maths, and it is even more wonderful to see a child discover for himself a piece of knowledge and understanding, at precisely the moment he was ready for it!