Fractions are a part of the UK national curriculum, but a significant fraction(!) of children really struggle to grasp the concept. Below are a few tips we think your pupils may appreciate.
- Start Really Simple
It’s best to start really, really simple. Misunderstandings at the start can lead to a whole lot of issues.
So look just at halves and quarters for the first few weeks.
- Use a Number Line
There’s quite a lot of compelling research that number lines are a more powerful tool for introducing fractions than pie charts. Children are used to seeing them for whole numbers and fractions just fill in the gap.
- Don’t just go to Fractions of a Whole
If you want to talk about a half, you don’t need a pie chart. Simply take ten counters and divide them into two groups. What happens when they are divided into 5 groups?
- Move onto shapes
Once the pupils have mastered dividing groups of objects, approach how to find a fraction in a shape. Perhaps posing questions – What is a quarter of a square? What is half of a circle?
- Use Real Things
Use real things to explain fractions. Moving from the abstract to the physical is a real challenge for some children. Using real objects can make fractions click into place.
It is also a chance to be creative –colours, food – all make for great fraction display walls.
What does half past an hour mean? It’s language that your pupils know but do they understand it?
- Turn to Tech
Another strategy to build fluency is to let them practice digitally. Fractions with Emile is superb at getting students to practice a little every day.