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How To Teach Primary School Math (Division)

In primary school, children are extensively taught how to divide in the abstract form while for us adult, we would simply reach for the calculator and voila! you have the answer. I pity the children.

Well, to teach division, I would take a 3 step approach. In fact, in any teaching of mathematics, these 3 approaches should be taken systematically. This is called the CPA approach (ask any educator and they should know about this approach for primary math).

  • Step 1: Concrete
    • I would start simple. Give the child 4 marbles and 2 cups. Tell the child that he is supposed to SHARE the marbles between the 2 cups. Ask him to place the marbles into each cup one at a time in alternates.
    • After this has been done, ask the child to tell you how many marbles are there in each cup. The answer would be 2 in each cup.
    • Tell the child what they have done. The concept of SHARING is actually DIVISION.
    • One point to highlight to the child would be that after SHARING/DIVIDING, the resultant or answer would be smaller than the number you start with.
    • Let the child experience a few rounds of this hands-on or concrete activity until they get used to it.
    • ** Extension – In this step you could give the child 5 marbles and ask him to SHARE them with 2 cups. What is left would be the REMAINDER. Explain the concept of remainder.
  • Step 2 : Pictorial
    • For this step, the aim is to transfer the hands-on division onto paper. You can start by drawing 4 boxes and thell the child that they need to color these boxes. They need to share/divide the boxes into 2 colors.
    • Give them 2 different color pencils and asked them to color one box at a time with one color.
    • Ask them, how many boxes were in one color. The resultant and answer would give the pictorial representation of the answer.
    • This step can be extended in may ways. It is up to your creativity. I am using boxes as it is similar to the over-used model approached. You can also used lines, circles, cartoon characters and what not in order to keep the interest of the child.
    • Again, keep repeating this step until they are comfortable with it. Remember to introduce the concept of remainder.
  • Step 3 : Abstract
    • This is the final step. At this stage, the concept of division should have set in in terms of cognitive understanding from the Concrete and Pictorial activities.
    • In this step, we make use of numbers like in a proper question. The child can make use of the PICTORIAL experience and understanding as their working – which again brings us back to model approach.
    • The goal in this step would be to create the number bond awareness from their multiplication concept.

These steps are good for beginners as you work with single digit numbers or ones value. As the child progresses further, you may start to introduce tens value and hundreds value.

Always remember, take small steps but consistent and systematic. In the long run, it will pay off.


Thanks! I will try them out

Thanks! I will try them out on DS1 😉


this method has made teaching division easier!

great tips!

great tips!

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