Many of my teaching friends agree that teaching fractions can be confusing and complex, and I'm sure that many of their students feel the same learning them as well.
The worst part is that if you are unable to grasp maths concepts such as fractions in the early stages of your education, they can go on to confuse you later on throughout your education and cause a great deal of math anxiety (not to mention a great deal of maths tuition too). Students need to intuitively understand these maths concepts instead of pure memorizing such as memorizing the timetable, as memorization doesn't lead to long-term understanding.
So, teachers and parents, how can you make fractions more fun?
Instead of relying on ancient techniques such as pie charts to teach fractions, nowadays there are online games to help students really grasp the concept of fractions through number lines or models.
For instance, Brain Pop is a website that offers animated lessons, games, and even homework help, to make learning a whole lot more fun. Their Battleship Numberline game allows students to bomb a battleship using fractions between 0 and 1.
Other techniques for younger students include cutting up paper into thirds or sevenths to understand what denominators mean, and to see which fraction is bigger.
By using number lines, it can help students to compare different fractions, which may be harder to do with pie charts. A pie is divided into pieces and it may become confusing as a pie divided into sixths can look very similar to a pie divided into sevenths. Number lines will also help in emphasizing how to compare fractions, before students go on to learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide them.
So, students, why should you learn fractions?
Singapore is routinely ranked at the top in global comparisons of mathematical ability, with the UK government announcing last year that half of England's primary schools will adopt the "Singapore model" of teaching maths. It may seem that as a nation, we keep raising the bar for students' math performances, but this is not without reason.
Research have proven that by understanding fractions at an early age, it actually unlocks other educational achievements such as IQ development, reading skills, and of course, it acts as the foundation for more advanced maths and science skills like algebra, geometry, physics and chemistry.
While some of these higher level subjects seems only to be crucial if you are keen to pursue a career path in the science and technical industries, basic maths concepts like understanding fractions are crucial for everyone to master as it can improve your daily living skills too - such as sports, cooking, and best of all, being awesome in playing pool.