By Wilma T. Good on July 02 2018 19:03:35

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.

As well as a printed blank hundred square, another way to visualise decimals is to make a decimal stick. Get a cane or long stick, place with tape a number 1 to the right hand end, then a 0 to the left. Ask them now to place 0.5 in the middle, then together work out where all the other decimal points should go.

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

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!

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