Why Learning Fractions can be Simple

china school fraction method

Many students think fractions are tough, but understanding them doesn’t have to be hard. Using a step-by-step approach, similar to the method popular in Shanghai, fractions can become easy and enjoyable to learn.

Start with the Basics

Before diving into fractions, it’s important for students to really understand basic number skills like counting and knowing whole numbers. This solid foundation helps make learning fractions much smoother.

Initially, fractions are introduced gently, especially towards the end of Year 2 in Key Stage 1 (KS1). Young students start to connect fractions with familiar concepts. For instance, they might explore what “half an hour” means or understand that ½ represents one of two equal parts of an object, shape, or quantity.

Learning Fractions Step by Step in Key Stage 2

unit fractions

As students progress to Key Stage 2 (KS2), they begin a more structured exploration of fractions, starting in Year 3. Here’s how the step-by-step approach unfolds:

  1. Understanding Sizes: In Year 3, students learn how to describe the size of each part relative to the whole, especially when a whole is divided into equal parts.
  2. Starting with Unit Fractions: Early in Year 3, the focus is on unit fractions—fractions with a numerator of 1. These simpler fractions lay the groundwork for understanding more complex fractions.
  3. Comparing Fractions: Still in Year 3, students compare fractions by examining those that have either the same numerator or the same denominator, which helps them see which fractions are bigger or smaller.
  4. Fractions as Numbers: Students also learn that fractions can represent numbers and have a place on a number line.
  5. Going Beyond 1: By the time they reach Year 4, students are ready to explore fractions that are greater than 1, learning about mixed numbers and improper fractions. They understand what these fractions represent and how to convert between them.

Using Fractions in Real Life and Conclusion

Applying fractions to real-life situations, such as measuring ingredients or calculating time, makes the concept more relatable and easier to understand. When students see how fractions are used in daily activities, they grasp their importance and practicality.

By giving students the tools to master fractions early on, especially starting from Year 2 and expanding in Year 3, they can confidently tackle more advanced mathematical challenges in later years. With patience and clear instruction, learning fractions becomes a manageable and rewarding part of any student’s education journey.

School of Psychology, Shandong Normal University, Jinan, Shandong 250358, China