Am I the only one who cringes when I see math problems that include fractions? Even in recipes, I can sometimes stumble when I am trying to increase the recipe by 1/3 and the recipe calls for 3/4ths a cup of something. It seems simple but I am terrified when faced by fractions.
Why? I was not taught how to properly handle fractions.
When I was in school, we were taught to find the decimal
equivalent of the fractions and then to work them that way. Oh, there was a short week-long look at basically what fractions were, and they introduced to us cross multiplication but that was the extent of it. We avoided fractions at all costs. So where did that leave me?
Looking like a deer in headlights when my daughter begged for help with fractions.
While the past couple of weeks have been no cakewalk, I have learned a number of things. Mainly, I have learned how to work fractions but the way that I have been working on them does not always work for others. So let’s look at some ways that we can help our kiddos with fractions when we ourselves do not understand them.
Start from scratch
My older boy especially cannot stand this tactic but start from the very beginning, as if you know nothing about fractions is the best course of action. When we are struggling with a math concept, often, we do not know where it is in the concept that we have a gap. The best way to identify and then work through this gap is to start with the basics of fractions and move up. Start with halves and wholes. Use pizzas or cake as a way to help your kiddo connect to this math concept and once they can explain to you what a whole is versus what a half is, move onto quarters, fifths, and so on.
Utilize various resources
There are some concepts I learn well visually and some I am more of a kinesthetic learner. My kiddos are exactly the same. Knowing this, when my girl said she was having trouble understanding fractions, I looked for a variety of resources for her to use to help her comprehend better. When it comes to books, I love the simplicity of the Usbourne Fractions and Decimals book as well as the full explanation of fractions and practice pages that you find in Barron’s Painless guides. Sometimes books do not show the act of solving fraction problems well though, so I also found some electronic resources. I of course used Khan Academy to find videos and practice on fraction work but I also found a website called CK-12.
Work through the Math book with your kiddo
This part was the hardest part for me. It is definitely easier to find resources, to hand them to my kiddo and just guide them a little, but I have realized that if I work directly with them and discuss what we are working on, they often understand faster, more deeply and we can find their gaps more easily. When my girl came to me frustrated and honestly heartbroken because she usually never has to ask for help, I admitted my own shortcomings when it came to fractions and offered to work with her to help her. We had a long heart to heart that day and the following school day, we were both on the floor in front of the tv, watching the lesson one video and taking notes. There have been a number of times where she has suddenly had an “ah-ha” moment and we celebrate these together but there have also been times when I have as well. We now have a good rhythm in place and we check each other’s work and encourage each other daily. We have both learned so much through this process.
Our personal weaknesses can give our kiddos confidence
One of the many lessons I have taken away from this struggle is that despite my lack of confidence in myself when it came to fractions, I can do so much to help my daughter and build her confidence. Fractions have always been terrifying but they are not so scary anymore. They are still not my favorite math concept but they do not intimidate me as much anymore. Fractions can be understood and our kiddos can not only learn how to ask for help with them but can learn that Mom’s and Dad’s need help sometimes too. This is not a bad thing and we don’t need to hide it.
Fractions are just fractions. Find resources that work for your kiddo’s learning styles, work with them daily to help build comprehension and confidence, and work with them, doing the work as they do it. The struggles help us to learn and grow, even struggles with fractions.
Enjoy the journey of learning and growing with your kiddos.
Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 9 years now. I am also a military spouse, so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it. As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs, or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.