My daughter was in a great groove with math (something with which we have always struggled), and I was so excited until the day she started the chapter on multiplying three digits by three digits.

It was just beyond her. She just could not keep everything straight and constantly got herself mixed up in the middle of it.

That’s when the crying started again.  And, I had foolishly hoped that it was finally behind us–the crying, the sobbing, the hours of saying “I can’t do this!”

I looked at the instructions, and realized that while Mr. Saxon was kindly trying to teach students some really great shortcuts, all it was serving to do for my daughter was to confuse and vex her.

So I took a deep breath and said a little prayer that I would know how to proceed.

And it actually came to me!  I needed to color coordinate!  I think it took so long to figure out how to help her because I would not have thought of it myself.  But, here is what I did.

I used one colored pencil for multliplying the ones column, a different color for tens, and a third color for threes.  In this way she didn’t lose track of what she was doing:

It really works for her, and I think it might also work for other kids when they first encounter this concept to help them understand that we are multiplying different place columns each time.