Techniques to Teach Decimals

As children move up the steps that lead to a deep understanding of math, they will eventually reach the step called ‘decimals.’ The step is located after the child has had a wonderful experience with fractions because, like fractions, decimals deal with portions or parts of a whole. Like all math subjects, decimals are logical elements that must be taught. As children learn in different ways, so decimals will need to be taught with a myriad of methods.

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Introduce your students to decimals. Begin by drawing a long rectangle on the board. Divide it into ten even boxes. Have the students count the boxes and label each one with 1/10. Color in three of the rectangles and count them. Write 3/10 on the board. Show the students that you can write 3/10 in a different way with a decimal point, 0.3. Teach them to read it as O point 3 and three-tenths. Give students a white board and ask them to draw their own rectangle that they divide into ten equal boxes. Have them choose how may they want to color in on their board. Ask them to write a fraction and then a decimal to show their answer. Ask them to hold up their boards and check their answers. Practice until they are getting the concept.

Line it up

Give all but one student a card with a decimal on it. Let them line up and place themselves in the correct order. The child without a card will check their answer and move anyone who is not in the correct place in line.

Go with what they know

Use money to show students how decimals are used. Using white boards, call out different money names, like one dollar and twenty-five cents. Students will write what they hear on the board and hold up their answers. Relate what they are doing to what you want them to understand about decimals. 

Practice makes perfect

Name different decimal amounts. Students will write the numbers on white boards. If a child is having a difficult time understanding how to form the number, provide them with a white board that has a place value chart on it with boxes for each number. The names should be above the boxes. Leave a space for the decimal, but the child should add the decimal.

Keep it in order

Give your students graph paper with larger boxes. Teach them to line the numbers up by the decimal point to add and subject decimals. Teach them to add a zero on the far right if there are more numbers on the second number. The boxes will help them keep them in order.

Once students have a basic idea about decimals, they will be able to learn new concepts with ease. Take the time and use the techniques to give them a good foundation. Then, they will be ready for independent work.