Math is generally an easy subject for kids to master in the early grades because the topics are concrete and relatable. Many kids encounter their first struggle when the concept of fractions is introduced. This tends to happen because kids don’t have a good number sense of what a fraction is, what it looks like, and what it represents. It’s all about the foundation!
When introducing fractions to your child, be sure to take ample time to build a strong foundation. Use lots of hands-on activities. The beauty of homeschool is that you are not tied to a timeline - so it’s perfectly fine to settle in on a topic for several days if necessary.
It’s okay to start early - even as your child is learning multiplication and division of whole numbers. Regardless of when you introduce fractions, my biggest suggestion is to do hands-on activities - and do them often. Make fractions relevant and fun.
It is important for kids to understand the parts of a fraction. Teach them the correct terminology as well as what the numerator and denominator represent. Show them many examples of parts and wholes. Use real-world examples. Take “pizza night” for example. Before you dig into that amazing cheesy pizza complete with your favorite toppings, ask some questions or point out that you have one whole pizza but it is cut into eight parts. Reiterate that you are giving your child one out of eight pieces of pizza. Real life connections are terrific ways to help make a difficult concept more relevant.
There are all kinds of games and activities you can use for hands-on activities. Many educators like to use legos for fraction instruction.
Cuisenaire rods are also an effective tool. You can even print your own fractions bars (we have a free set for you to print here). You can find numerous ideas online for teaching with each of these tools - Pinterest is a great resource. There’s also a fun list of ways to teach hands-on fractions here.