During our holiday break, Ezra and Phaedra are supposed to be doing a multiplication table up to 12's every day. It's not happening THAT regularly, but I can tell they are each getting a little faster. I cringe sometimes as I watch them doing this very mechanical work, but I have tried many other things.
I tried rhythmic clapping and marching and songs and games. I tried games that meant you had to multiply to get the answer. I let them struggle through many math lessons and pointed out how much easier it might be if they just knew their table.
Then, I decided it was just time- way past time for Ezra. They hated me the first couple of days of filling in the table. But, by the third time they each filled it in, their math lessons were taking less time. And there was much less complaining and begging for help during their work. They both were suddenly more confident.
I never thought I would force them to do these things. I thought their experience would lead them to learning them independently. That did not turn out quite how and thought, and you really should just know that 8 x 7 is 56 and not 54.