Fractions are among the most important mathematical topics all primary school students should master. Being proficient with fractions is essential for learning more advanced mathematical concepts. Fractions are the first introduction to abstraction in math for students. For this reason, fractions are the most effective introduction to algebra in primary school.
Although fractions form a crucial part of primary school mathematics, they can be difficult to learn and teach. It is common for parents to struggle when it comes to teaching their kids fractions. School teachers might be unable to provide individualised learning for students struggling with the subject in a full classroom setting where different students have different learning needs. Because of this, many parents choose to enrol their children in primary math tuition in Singapore.
Below, we explore some fun and foolproof strategies for making fractions easier for primary math students to learn.
1. Use manipulatives and visual models
Manipulatives and visual models are among the best tried-and-tested ways to teach any math concept, and they also serve as excellent assessments. They are particularly effective for teaching fractions. Manipulatives can make the abstract concept of fractions more concrete, especially since visualising part versus whole is a developmental ability often not fully in place for some students until secondary school.
To make fractions easier to understand, try building fraction kits with your child at the start of every fraction unit you teach. This will give them a visual concept upon which they can establish the rest of their knowledge of fractions. Make use of the kits throughout the whole fraction unit. You can tape your fraction to the board throughout your unit and refer to it when you and your kid need to solve a math problem together.
2. Apply fractions to equations and expressions
Manipulatives are visual models and are the most efficient way to introduce the concept of fractions. However, once your child has strong foundations, they should also learn how to use fractions in equations and expressions. This will help deepen their abstract thinking and make them think more flexibly.
One fun way to introduce your child to equations and expressions is through number sentence proofs. In this type of activity, your child will not only find answers; they will also identify whether an equation is true or false and then prove the same. Basically, number sentence proofs will enable your child to go beyond disconnected mathematical facts in order to determine connections between numbers, such as fractions.
3. Model some fractions with food
Everybody loves food. So, one of the best methods you can use to introduce and reinforce fractions with a primary math student is to use food. Food items like pizza, pies, and candies relate specifically well for visualisation and real-world context. For example, in teaching your child dividing and multiplying fractions, you can use a pizza, with the total number of slices being represented as the denominator and a certain amount of such slices being represented as the numerator.
If you do not want to use real food, you can instead draw a pizza on the board and start dividing it into smaller and smaller fractions. Then, point to the 1/2 slice and the 1/8 slice, and ask your child whether they want the former or the latter. Once they see that the 1/2 slice is much bigger than the 1/8, the “part of a whole” abstract concept will become more concrete to them.
4. Turn to technology
In today’s digital world, education has become much more accessible, thanks to technology. You can also take advantage of such technology to help your child build fluency with their fraction skills. Digital apps and other online resources can help solidify fraction concepts for them. Among the best apps your kid can particularly enjoy are Fractions. Smart Pirates and Squeebles Fractions.
Both apps demonstrate fractions visually and involve engaging games that encourage students to become more flexible in their approach towards fractions, usually helping correct some misconceptions children may have. For instance, an activity from Squeebles Fractions can help your child understand that two pieces may still be required to serve 1/3 of a cake instead of just one.
5. Provide strategic step-by-step instructions
When teaching a particularly challenging mathematical concept like fractions, it is always helpful to map out your objectives beforehand. Strategic, step-by-step instruction can address all the major issues that primary school students often face when learning fractions: misconceptions, limited understanding, and lack of practice.
If you think your child’s math curriculum in school is not offering adequate guidance, free resources are available online, which can provide your child with the kind of structure to guide them through the tricky parts of learning fractions. You may also choose to hire a reliable math tutor who can provide tailored instruction that suits your child’s learning needs. Usually, tutors teach math concepts in an extensive but exciting way to help children develop a love of math.
Fractions are not the easiest math concepts to learn and teach. It is not uncommon for primary math students to struggle with fractions, and such difficulty can tempt them to avoid fractions completely. However, having proficiency with fractions is very important for a student to learn more advanced mathematical concepts. If your child is having difficulty understanding fractions, the strategies shared in this article can help you make the concept much simpler for them.
On the other hand, you can also hire a trusted math tutor to ensure that your child will have a complete understanding of fractions. For math tuition in Bukit Batok, Colourtrain Academy is the one you can trust! Colourtrain Academy offers effective and affordable math tuition for both primary and secondary school students to help solidify their knowledge of essential math concepts like fractions. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.