Can I just be honest and blunt with you? Division is kicking our butts over here. Josh, who has always been my math whiz, rarely making even careless mistakes, is really having a hard time with division. It just hasn’t clicked with him yet. He can’t seem to wrap his mind around the fact that it’s the opposite of multiplication.
I can’t really say that I blame him. I hated math when I was in school — particularly division. So, I’ve been at a loss as to how to help it make sense to the kid to whom I usually don’t have to explain math. Finally, this week, I realized that we needed something visual. So, I pulled out the counting chips that I’m not sure I ever actually used with him. I’m really surprised that I still had them tucked away in our school cabinet, but I guess they were too bright and shiny for this homeschool mom to get rid of.
First, we counted out the number being divided. Then, we started our groups, one chip in each group until they were all gone. For example, for 48 divided by 6, we first counted out 48 chips, then, we made six groups of one. We added one chip at a time to each group until all the chips were distributed, then Josh counted to see how many chips were in each group.
I saw the lights start to flicker. After working a few problems like that, he was able to work most of the rest of them on his own, only pulling out the chips when he came across one that really confused him (aggravating 9’s!). I have a feeling it may take a few more practices with the chips, but I could see that this visual, hands-on activity way of working the problems really made it start to make a lot more sense.
So, if you’ve got some math manipulatives sitting around that you thought were just for you young elementary students, don’t be afraid to pull them out with your older kids. Sometimes we all just need to see something before we can really understand how it works.
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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.