HELP! My child is struggling with fractions and decimals and apparently I teach the “OLD” way!

Cue said child screaming, “No! Not that way! NO, we can’t use a calculator! NOOOOOOOO! You’re doing it wrong! I don’t even understand what you are saying!!!!! WAAAAAH!”

Here are a couple of options, depending on your child’s grade level of understanding. If they are brand new to fractions, the easiest way is surprisingly not “pizza slices”. Showing a circle fraction is actually quite confusing to convert because it is difficult to reproduce on your own.

Option 1: Dollar, dollar bills, y’all!

As adults we think in money ALL THE TIME. Money makes the world go ‘round. Why not teach fractions and decimals in terms of money. (this makes total sense when moving up to the next step too). Start off with 1 dollar.

  • 100 pennies = 1.00, 1/100 = 1 hundredth of a dollar .01 = 1 penny
  • 20 nickels = 1.00, 5/100 = 1 nickel, 1/20 = 5 hundreths of a dollar, .05 = 1 nickel
  • 10 dimes = 1.00, 10/100 = 1 dime, 1/10 = tenth of a dollar, .10 = 1 dime
  • 4 quarters = 1.00, 25/100 = 1 quarter, ¼ = quarter of a dollar, .25 = 1 quarter

Now converting is easy! Rowen has ¾ of his homework completed. In decimals, how much does he have done and how much does he have left?
Done = ¾ is the same as 3 quarters. Three quarters equal .75 cents. He has .75 completed!
Left = I know he has finished .75, so how much more do I need for a dollar (1.00)? Four quarters make a dollar. He has three quarters; he needs 1 more. Rowen has .25 or ¼ of his homework left! YAY!

Option 2: My child is now beyond the common dollar bill conversion. Now he is working with eighths, sixteenths, thirds.

To convert a fraction to a decimal, follow these steps:

  1. Find a number you can multiply with the denominator (bottom number) to make it 10, 100, or 1000, or any 1 followed by 0s.
  2. Multiply both top and bottom by that number.
  3. Write down just the numerator (top number), putting the decimal point in the correct spot (one space from the right hand side for every zero in the bottom number).

For example, 3/16 = ?
Multiply 16 x 625 = 10,000
Top and bottom multiplied by 625 = 1,875/10,000
0.1875 YAY!

One more example, ⅓ = ?
I CAN’T DO IT! (get close) 333 x 3 = 999
Top and bottom multiplied by 333 = 333/999
0.333 (only to the thousandths) YAY!

Let us know if your child is struggling with math. They may warrant an evaluation to determine if a learning disorder exists, or they may just needs some supports. We are here to help! Call or email us. info@peakevaluations.com

YOUR TURN! Let’s test your skills. Can you convert 6/25 to a decimal? Post your answer in comments! Winners get a high-5!

–Lindsey Binford, M. Ed

Educational Diagnostician

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