# Laying the Groundwork for Teaching Division, Part 2

The process of division may seem intimidating to students and parents. However, it is not as complicated as many think.

###### Parents can make the passage to proficiency of this skill easier by laying the groundwork early in their child’s life.

In Part 1 of this post, two ways were discussed that parents may employ.

In this post we will discover another easy and inexpensive way to further aid in helping children develop the skills necessary to achieve mastery.

That way is through a simple technique that employs the use of manipulatives.

Yes, manipulatives may be costly to purchase but they can be readily made by recycling items already found in most households. One only need the imagination to come up with a variety of useful tools made from simple everyday objects that are usually thrown in the garbage.

###### For our purposes in this post, we will use recycled ice cream sticks.

Enlist the aid of extended family members in recycling so that you have a useful amount.

Make this a fun game. Your child will be learning concepts of division without realizing it.

###### Do this discovery activity.

Pile a number of ice cream sticks on the middle of a table or other flat surface. Ask a variety of questions that will engage thinking skills.

Change the amount of sticks. Then continue asking questions for that amount.

Adjust questions according to your child’s skill level.

###### Let your child discover the answers.

Whether your little one can count past ten or not is not important. Mathematical concepts such as one-to-one correspondence is being developed.

If your child is older, he or she should be able to give you a numerical answer through this discovery activity.

###### Some sample activities when working with one child:

Divide the pile of sticks so that you and I have the same number of sticks. How many sticks do you have?  How many sticks do I have?

Put all the sticks back in the middle of the table.

Now pretend that there are 3 people here. Divide the sticks into three equal piles. (Give the child time to complete the activity.) How many would each of us have?

Put 10 of the sticks in the middle of the table.

Divide the sticks into two equal piles.

Put 8 sticks in the middle of the table.

Divide the sticks into four equal piles or groups.  How many sticks are in each pile or group?

###### Use mathematical terms as you see your child progressing.

As your child progresses in understanding, begin to add in mathematical terms.

In the last question above, the word groups was added to the instruction. This is a simple but nonthreatening way for your child to begin understanding mathematical terms. Do this in a gentle way. When the child has grasped the understanding of the new term, use that term instead.

For instance, when you perceive that your child has grasped the understanding of what you are requesting when you use the word group, drop the word pile. “How many sticks are in each group?”

Don’t rush.  Just add in a new term as you see your child progressing.

Another example from above is the use of the term equal. The term equal should eventually replace the words same number.

###### Do a few minutes of discovery activities each day.

Adding just a few minutes of this activity to your child’s playtime each day will go far in laying the groundwork for what will not be daunting, but will actually become a welcome task of teaching the process of division.

More to come in Part 3.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark.

## Struggling with Addition

One of a child’s greatest needs is to memorize the addition facts. This task comes easy for many; but some struggle and fall behind in their math studies because of this one single necessity.

What can parents do when they find their child struggling in this area?

Immediate intervention is needed. More complicated math utilizing the process of addition should be delayed until this situation is remedied.

First, process why he or she may be struggling. Were foundational steps skipped or overlooked? Does the child understand what the individual numbers represent? For instance, does the child understand that the picture 8 represents a collection of 8 objects or 8 sets of objects?

When teaching numbers, sometimes this knowledge is easily overlooked. A child may be trying to memorize images of number figures without any understanding of what those images represent. For example, the picture 8 plus the picture 8 equals the picture 16 instead of 8 objects added to 8 more objects equals 16 objects total. Some children need more time to process this information.

The use of manipulatives will aid understanding. Yes, I know some teachers frown on the use of objects to help a student learn their facts. They insist on memorization. Yet, when students are struggling with a particular math problem, such teachers model the addition by the use of their fingers. This is a bad practice and greatly hinders the child. Children following this teaching model quickly learn to rely on fingers.

The use of manipulatives diverts the child away from the use of fingers. Each object is representative of 1 and when added together those 1’s become a collection of more than 1. No matter the learning style of the individual, this hands-on approach to addition greatly increases the struggling child’s ability to understand and memorize the facts.

Just what are manipulatives and what are some ways that they can be used to teach math? We’ll discuss this in a later post. Right now, since you have read this far, you may have a struggler about which you are concerned. Hopefully, the next post will be of benefit to you.