How To Help Your Child Understand Elementary School Fractions
They can grasp it concretely. You just have to work at it so they can grasp it
When I teach fractions, I love to use fraction manipulatives. They're circles that are cut into little pieces and they're handy to have. I also use a lot of examples when teaching fractions, so I'll talk about pie, cake or pizza. Pizza is a good example to use for teaching fractions. They understand cutting pizza into pieces. The fraction manipulatives are fun because the manipulatives are uniform and my drawings are never uniform. For the simple things like working out a fifth, you cut the pizza into five pieces and you say, "If I give you this one how many do you have? One." The top is the numerator - it's the thing that I care about - and the bottom is the denominator - how many pieces the pie is cut into total. You do this again and again, you have to do it many, many times before your child will get it. Fractions are an abstract concept. It's not the way that children think of things. They want a piece and they don't really care. Next, I begin talking about fractions as comparisons. Would you rather have a fifth or a twentieth of a pizza? I don't care or I don't know. Explain that this pizza is cut into five pieces and this pizza is cut into twenty pieces. If you can only have one piece, which one do you want? They'll almost always say they want the fifth piece because they can see that those pieces are bigger. You work that way until they start grasping fractions. They can grasp it concretely, you just have to work at it so they can grasp it conceptually.