BlogMath for KidsHow to Teach Division to Kids in 11 Easy Steps

How to Teach Division to Kids in 11 Easy Steps

Have you ever wondered how to teach division to kids? Whether you’re a parent helping with homework or a teacher seeking effective teaching strategies, we all want to ensure that children grasp this fundamental mathematical concept. In this blog, we’ll explore practical strategies to teach division in a way that engages young learners. With these steps, your kids will confidently master division in no time!

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11 Easy Steps to Teach Division to Kids 

1. Understanding Division as Sharing

Teaching division as sharing is about showing kids how to split things evenly. This approach makes division a lot more relatable and easier to understand.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Your child is ready to learn division as sharing when they can count well and understand what it means to group things. Usually, this is around the time they’re in second or third grade, but it can vary. A good sign is if they start asking questions about dividing things or sharing equally in everyday life.

How Can You Do It?

The best way to teach division is to make it hands-on. Use things around the house like toys, blocks, or even pieces of fruit. Start with simple numbers.

For example, if you have 10 apples, ask your child how to share them between 2 people. Let them physically move the items into groups. This way, they can see and touch the division process, making it much clearer.

Milestones

  • Your child understands that division is about sharing equally. They can divide a small number of items into two groups.
  • Your child can solve simple division problems on paper and explain the process of sharing items equally in their own words.

2. Division Vocabulary

After your child gets the hang of dividing things by sharing, it’s time to introduce them to some key division words: dividend, divisor, quotient, and remainder. Understanding these terms helps them not just divide but also talk about it clearly.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Kids are usually ready for this step after they’ve mastered the basic idea of sharing equally. This often happens in the third grade, but readiness can vary.

How Can You Do It?

A great way to teach division to kids and get them familiar with division vocabulary is by incorporating these terms into the activities you’re already doing. 

For example, when dividing those 10 apples, you can say, “We have a dividend of 10 apples, and we’re dividing them by 2, which is our divisor. How many apples will each person get?” After they answer, add, “Right, so our quotient is 5.” Labeling each part of a division problem during everyday activities makes the terms stick.

Milestones

  • Your child can identify and label the dividend and divisor in simple division problems.
  • They correctly understand and use ” quotient ” when solving division problems.
  • They can explain each term’s meaning and apply them in different division scenarios.

3. Relating Division to Multiplication

This step shows kids that division and multiplication are two sides of the same coin. If sharing items in groups teaches them the practical side of the division, understanding its connection to multiplication gives them a powerful tool to solve division problems faster.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Once your child is comfortable with division vocabulary and understands multiplication facts, they’re ready. It’s like a lightbulb moment that makes multiplication and division more sense. This typically happens around third or fourth grade.

How Can You Do It?

The introduction to division and its relationship with multiplication can be taught using multiplication facts your child already knows. If they know that 4 × 5 = 20, you can challenge them with, “If we have 20 divided by 5, how many groups do we have?” Encourage them to see that division is just finding out how many times one number fits into another.

Milestones

  • Your child understands that multiplication and division are related. They start using multiplication facts to solve simple division problems.
  • They can explain in their own words how knowing multiplication helps with division.
  • Your child can use multiplication facts to solve more complex division problems without physical objects or pictures.
Related Reading: How to Teach Multiplication to Kids

4. Division Without Remainders

Now that kids understand the basics of division and its vocabulary, it’s time to practice division that ends with whole numbers

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Children are usually ready for this step after mastering the connection between division and multiplication and can confidently use division vocabulary. This is typically around the fourth grade, depending on the child.

How Can You Do It?

One of the easy ways to teach division without remainders is by using repeated subtraction and drawing arrays. 

For example, if you have 12 cookies and want to divide them between 3 friends, you can subtract 3 cookies at a time and count how many times you do this until you reach zero. With arrays, you can draw a grid of 12 dots and show how they can be evenly divided into 4 rows or columns, visually explaining the division process.

Begin Here:

Milestones

  • Your child can divide numbers that are perfectly split into whole numbers using physical objects or pictures.
  • They use repeated subtraction to solve division problems without remainders.
  • They can draw arrays to represent division problems and find the quotient.

5. Division With Remainders

After getting comfortable with neat division problems, it’s time to introduce scenarios where dividing doesn’t result in a perfect split. This means there will be something left over, called a remainder.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Kids are ready to tackle division with remainders once they’ve got a handle on division without remainders and understand that sometimes things don’t divide up evenly. This concept is usually introduced in the later part of fourth grade or the beginning of fifth grade.

How Can You Do It?

Using manipulatives is one of the best strategies for division that really helps when introducing remainders. If you’re dividing 10 cookies among 3 friends, physically dividing the cookies and seeing one left over makes the concept of a remainder clear. You can also use story problems that naturally lead to reminders to help kids understand why sometimes everything doesn’t divide evenly.

Begin Here:

Milestones

  • Your child understands the concept of a remainder in division.
  • They can solve division problems with remainders using manipulatives or drawings.
  • Your child can accurately explain why some division problems have remainders and others don’t and use the correct vocabulary to describe the process.

6. Introduction to Long Division

Introducing long division means teaching kids a systematic way to divide larger numbers that can’t be easily handled with basic division skills. This is where they start using a step-by-step process to break down a division problem into more manageable parts.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Your child is ready for long division once they are comfortable with division vocabulary, can handle division with and without remainders, and understand multiplication well. This is usually by the time they’re in fourth or fifth grade.

How Can You Do It?

The key on how to teach division, especially long division, is to start simple. Begin with one-digit divisors and use step-by-step guides or worksheets that visually break down each part of the division process. Show them how to divide, multiply, subtract, and bring down the next digit in a repeated sequence until the division is complete. Using lined paper can help keep their numbers organized.

Begin with these long division games:

Milestones

  • Your child can follow the steps of long division with one-digit divisors and solve problems without remainders.
  • They understand each step of the long division process and can explain what to do at each step.
  • Your child can solve long division problems with one-digit divisors and check their work for accuracy.

7. Long Division With Remainders

Now, kids will apply the long division process to problems that don’t divide evenly, leading to a remainder. This helps them understand that not all division problems end with a whole number.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Kids are ready for this step after they’ve mastered the basics of long division with simple, one-digit divisors and are looking to tackle more complex problems. This readiness often occurs in the fifth grade.

How Can You Do It?

Practicing with a variety of problems is crucial. Start with problems you know will have remainders and guide them through the long division steps, emphasizing how to interpret and write down the remainder at the end. Encourage them to understand that the remainder is part of the answer, not something to be ignored.

Milestones

  • Your child can solve long division problems that result in remainders.
  • They can correctly interpret and include the remainder in their answers.
  • Your child feels confident explaining how they solved a long division problem with a remainder.

8. Long Division With Multi-Digit Divisors

Expanding their skills, kids will tackle long division problems involving divisors with more than one digit. This adds complexity to the division process and requires a stronger grasp of multiplication and estimation.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Children are ready to move on to multi-digit divisors after they’ve become proficient with long division involving one-digit divisors and can handle remainders confidently. This is typically in the later part of fifth grade or into sixth grade.

How Can You Do It?

Introduce two-digit divisors gradually, starting with divisors that are familiar or easier to work with. Encourage estimation to find a starting point for the division. 

For example, if dividing by 24, they might round the divisor to 25 or 20 to estimate the quotient. Practice, patience, and lots of examples are key.

Milestones

  • Your child can perform long division with two-digit divisors, using estimation to help solve the problems.
  • They can solve complex division problems accurately and understand how to adjust their estimates as needed.
  • Your child demonstrates confidence in tackling long division problems regardless of the divisor’s size and can explain their process clearly.

9. Dividing Decimals

Teaching kids to divide decimals takes their division skills to the next level. This involves dividing numbers that have decimal points, starting with dividing decimals by whole numbers before moving on to dividing by decimals themselves.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Kids are ready to start learning how to do division with decimals once they’re comfortable with long division, including problems with multi-digit divisors and remainders. This usually happens in fifth or sixth grade.

How Can You Do It?

To teach simple division with decimals, begin by ensuring your child understands the concept of decimals and their place value. Start with dividing a decimal by a whole number, using the same long division process but paying attention to where the decimal point goes in the quotient. Use real-life examples involving money or measurements to make it relatable. Then, introduce dividing by a decimal, showing them how to shift the decimal point to turn the divisor into a whole number.

Milestones

  • Your child can divide a decimal by a whole number and place the decimal point correctly in their answer.
  • They understand how to convert a division problem involving two decimals into a simpler problem by shifting decimal points.
  • Your child can solve division problems involving decimals accurately and explain the process.
Related Reading: How to Teach Decimals: A Step-by-Step Guide

10. Word Problems and Applications

Applying division to solve word problems helps kids see how division is used daily. This involves interpreting a problem, deciding how to use division to solve it, and understanding what the answer means in real-world terms.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Once your child is confident with various division techniques, including dividing with remainders and decimals, they’re ready to tackle word problems. This ability develops in tandem with their reading comprehension skills, typically in fifth grade or beyond.

How Can You Do It?

Start by reading word problems together and discussing what the problem is asking. Identify keywords that suggest division is needed to find the solution. Practice with problems that involve sharing, dividing into groups, or dealing with measurements. Encourage your child to write down the problem’s corresponding division equation before solving it.

Begin with these math worksheets:

Milestones

  • Your child can interpret and represent simple division word problems with division equations.
  • They can solve more complex division problems, including those with remainders and decimals, and explain their answers in the context of the problem.
  • Your child confidently approaches division word problems, uses division to solve them, and understands the real-world implications of their solutions.
Related Reading: Easy Math Division Tricks to Simplify Your Child's Learning

11. Checking Work Using Multiplication

Using multiplication to check division work is a way to verify that division problems have been solved correctly. It reinforces the relationship between division and multiplication and ensures accuracy in their work.

When Is Your Child Ready for This?

Kids are ready to start checking their division work using multiplication once they have a solid understanding of both operations. This usually comes after they’ve learned long division and before or when they start working with decimals.

How Can You Do It?

After solving a division problem, have your child multiply the quotient by the divisor. If the product matches the original dividend, the division is done correctly. For problems with remainders, add the remainder to the product before comparing it to the dividend. This method not only checks their work but reinforces their multiplication skills.

Milestones

  • Your child can use multiplication to check simple division problems without remainders.
  • They can accurately check division problems with remainders and decimals.
  • Your child regularly uses multiplication to verify their division answers, demonstrating a deep understanding of how division and multiplication are related.


3 Typical Difficulties Kids Face While Learning Division

1. Difficulty in Visualizing Division: Some kids struggle to picture what division actually does, especially in abstract terms.

Use physical objects or drawing tools to show division in action. For instance, dividing blocks into groups gives them a tangible understanding of what’s happening.

2. Misunderstanding the Inverse Relationship Between Multiplication and Division: This can seem like a standalone concept, disconnected from what they already know.

Frequently connect division back to multiplication. If a child knows that 4 x 5 = 20, they can understand 20 ÷ 5 = 4. We play many matching games where they have to find the multiplication and division facts that go together.

3. Forgetting Steps in Long Division: It’s common for kids to forget a step or get mixed up, especially when they’re just starting to learn the process.

I use mnemonics and catchy phrases to help me remember the steps. “Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring down” becomes “Dad, Mother, Sister, Brother” in my class. It adds a bit of fun and helps the steps stick in their minds.

Conclusion

In my experience, the key to teaching division successfully is patience, practice, and connecting math to the real world whenever possible. Each child learns differently, so it’s important to be flexible in your approach and ready to try different strategies on how to teach division until you find what works best for each student. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to teach division creatively?

Incorporate division games and practical activities, like cooking or crafting, that involve dividing items into equal parts. Use stories or themes that interest your child to make division problems more engaging and relevant.

How do you explain simple division?

Describe simple division as sharing or grouping equally. Use objects like fruits or toys to visually demonstrate how items are divided into equal groups, making the concept easier to understand.

What are the 3 rules of division?

  • Division by 1: Dividing any number by 1 gives the number itself. For example, 8 ÷ 1 = 8.
  • Division by 0: Division by 0 is undefined. You cannot divide a number by 0.
  • Division of 0: Dividing 0 by any number (except 0) results in 0. For example, 0 ÷ 5 = 0.
AUTHOR
Andrew Scholl
Andrew Scholl is an educational expert with over 15 years of teaching experience in elementary and middle school classrooms. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.