By Brenda J. Church on May 15 2018 22:09:32

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 will be learning at school how to round up decimals to the nearest whole number. A fun way to practise this at home is to use regular dominos and establish that each piece is a decimal number (so a domino one with 3 dots and 4 dots is 3.4). Encourage them to play with the dominos, but with the rule that they can only, for example, join 2 dominos that are within 1.5 of each other. This will really get them thinking about what each decimal point represents. A number line can also be useful when rounding decimals.

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!

Never underestimate how much a visual representation of what can otherwise appear to be an abstract concept can help children learn.

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