By Tina J. Thomas on May 16 2018 10:19:13

Children usually start to learn about decimals in Year 4. The first thing children need to know is that a decimal is A PART of a whole. A good way to explain this is to show them an empty hundred number square / chart.

Children may find the easiest way to work this out is by using the column method, where all the numbers are placed in a column, one on top of the other. It is vital that they remember that the decimal points of each number must line up. Once they’ve worked out using pencil and paper, let them check on a calculator as using decimals accurately on a calculator is an important real life skill too.

If a child is really confused about decimals, converting decimal numnbers into money is a great way to make things clearer. For example: a child may be asked to say how much bigger 1.3 is than 0.9. If they convert these decimals into money (£1.30 and 90p) they may find that they can do this calculation very quickly in their head, getting the answer 40p which they convert back into the decimal, 0.4. Demonstrating that money maths depends on decimal understanding is also an easy way to prove that decimals are actually useful in real life!

When teaching decimal numbers, first review the basics of thousands, hundreds, tens and ones and then introduce (or review) tenths, hundredths and thousandths.

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