Tips on Teaching Fractions

by Glen

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

  1. Time

What does half past an hour mean? It’s language that your pupils know but do they understand it?

  1. 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.

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