How to Explain the Concept of Division to Children in an Accessible Way

Kate Chered
5 min readJan 21, 2024

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Understanding arithmetic operations can be challenging for children. While parents of preschoolers who struggle with multiplication and Division may remain relatively calm, knowing there’s still time before school starts, parents of younger schoolchildren often feel helpless in explaining the concept of number division. However, explaining Division need not be complex for the child or methodologically inscrutable for the adult.

What is Necessary for Grasping Division in Early School Age

Children as young as preschoolers engage in Division in everyday activities, such as sharing candies with friends or dividing toys in the sandbox. Therefore, the task for parents is to generalize this experience to the basics of arithmetic and instil an understanding of the division principle, i.e., dividing objects into equal parts. Fundamental knowledge necessary for mastering Division at preschool age includes understanding what a whole is and the concepts of more/less. If the child is familiar with these concepts, one can gradually use games to explain Division.

Dividing Equally Amongst Peers

Initially, it’s essential to show a child what Division means at a level they can comprehend, using visual aids. The game “Equal Shares for You and Me” can be helpful.

Materials for practising arithmetic should be appealing and engaging for children. For instance, a child can be given six candies and asked to divide them equally between two people so that each person gets the same amount. The child distributes the candies individually, counting them in both piles. After the candies are divided, the young mathematician counts them again in each pile and then counts the total number of sweets. The number of “divisors” can be increased, but the “dividend” should always be divisible without remainder. This exercise helps form the child’s concept of equal Division.

Effective Ways to Explain Division to Schoolchildren

Once a child has grasped equal Division, the next step is to introduce the concept of Division with a remainder. For example, a child can be given four apples and asked to divide them equally among three family members. The remaining apple represents the remainder that occurs when an equal division is not possible.

Moving on from tangible Division with candies and apples, children can then progress to abstract Division, that is, calculations using numbers instead of candies, apples, or toys. This involves using a more structured approach to explain Division to school-age children.

Division Based on Multiplication Table Knowledge

An effective method for teaching Division to schoolchildren is to build on their knowledge of the multiplication table. Understanding the relationship between multiplication and Division is crucial. For example, if a child knows that 2 x 3 = 6, they can understand that 6 ÷ 3 = 2. This method reinforces the concept that Division is essentially the inverse of multiplication.

Grouping Method for Division

Another helpful strategy is the grouping method. This involves dividing a larger number into smaller, more manageable groups. For instance, if a child is dividing 12 by 3, they can group the number 12 into four groups of 3. This visual and practical approach helps children understand Division as evenly distributing a number into groups.

How to Explain Column Division to Children

Column division, or long Division, is a more advanced concept. Explaining this method step by step is crucial, ensuring the child understands each part of the process. Starting with simple examples, such as dividing a two-digit number by a single-digit number, can lay a solid foundation. As the child becomes more comfortable with the concept, they can progress to more complex problems, like dividing larger numbers or dealing with remainders.

For instance, in dividing a two-digit number by a single-digit number, one can illustrate how to break down the larger number into smaller, more manageable parts. This step-by-step approach, often accompanied by visual aids or drawings, can significantly aid in the child’s understanding.

In conclusion, explaining the concept of Division to children involves a combination of practical, visual, and theoretical methods. By starting with tangible examples and gradually moving to more abstract concepts, parents and educators can effectively communicate the principles of Division, laying a solid foundation for further mathematical learning.

FAQs

How Can Parents Introduce the Concept of Division to Preschoolers?

Parents can introduce Division to preschoolers using everyday situations like sharing candies or toys. Begin with simple concepts like dividing a small number of items, such as six candies, equally between two people. This approach helps children understand Division as the process of distributing items evenly.

What Are the Basic Concepts Necessary for a Child to Understand Division?

Before tackling Division, a child should understand the concept of a whole and the notions of more/less. These fundamental concepts are crucial for grasping the idea of splitting a whole into equal parts, which is the essence of Division.

Where Can Parents Find Suitable Materials to Teach Division?

Materials for teaching division can be found in everyday life. Items like candies, fruits, or small toys that appeal to children can be used to demonstrate the division process visually. The key is to use engaging and relevant materials to the child’s daily experiences.

When Should Children Move From Concrete to Abstract Division?

Children should move from concrete (using physical objects) to abstract (using numbers) Division once they are comfortable with the basic concept of dividing items equally. This usually happens after they successfully practice dividing tangible items like candies or apples without a remainder and with a remainder.

How Do Knowledge of the Multiplication Table and Division Relate?

Knowledge of the multiplication table greatly aids in understanding Division. It helps children comprehend that Division is the inverse of multiplication. For example, if they know 3 x 4 = 12, they can understand that 12 ÷ 4 = 3. This connection simplifies the learning process of Division.

What Is the Grouping Method in Division?

The grouping method in Division involves breaking down a larger number into smaller groups. For instance, if dividing 12 by 3, a child groups the number 12 into four groups of 3. This visual and hands-on method is particularly effective for children to understand how Division works.

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