How To Help Your Child Understand Elementary School Decimals
For decimals, I always start out with money, keeping that decimal point lined up for
For decimals, I always start out with money. It's the kind of easiest way for them, that they know, that they understand. I start out with pennies and I'll write--everything that I do with manipulatives--I try to do the written form on paper, too. So they can kind of see how a penny is related to point one. So we'll talk about, okay, how many pennies are there in a dollar? Okay, there's a hundred. So that's the hundredths place, that's the hundredths place right here. And then, well, here's a dime. How many dimes in a dollar? Well, there's ten. So here's the tenths place, right here. And you go back and forth and you talk about it. And one of the hardest things for kids when they start doing computation with decimals is that they don't want to line them up. You know, everything goes willy-nilly. But if you say to a child, "If I have thirty cents and I have thirty dollars and I put it together, is that sixty dollars?" They'll do it on paper, no problem, they'll make is sixty dollars. But when you ask them, they'll say, "No. Not even close." And so I try to really say, "Look, you don't want to mix your dollars and your cents. You want to keep everything separate. And the way you keep it separate is by keeping that decimal point lined up for addition and subtraction." So, you kind of try to make things real for them.