Math Topics - Long division

Julie in MN
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Math Topics - Long division

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue May 29, 2007 1:48 pm

scmlg wrote:We are using Singapore 3A with my third grader. We are at the end doing division.

I've done all I know to do. I've broken it up with cookies, we've memorized our multipication tables, I've done a thousand problems (okay, close to it) with him, I've done the fact families with him over and over again. He can tell me in words how to do the problem and what the answer is. BUT he can NOT write it. So, if we have 84 divided by 6, I have to prompt him the entire way. Without the promptings he tries to write the answer anywhere except the correct place.

Today, I just about lost it. It's now 2:40 and he's still at the table with Math that we started at 9:00 this morning!!! He had 15 problems to do. I feel like it's all on purpose. But then I think no he just doesn't get it. Please, help me.
I feel almost certain that it is not your ds being stubborn.

I think most kids struggle with this level of math. It just doesn't make sense to them where the different numbers go. It just takes time to absorb & sink in.

Sometimes it's worse with boys because their handwriting makes it hard to keep track of, and because they have been resistant to learning about the importance of neatness & placement.

You could take a break & do some of the fun units in Singapore (measuring water, counting money), while keeping up a few long division problems every day. Slowly the whole thing will sink in.

I liken it to drivers ed -- you can't learn everything instantly. It takes hours of driving before you can handle your vehicle without painstakingly thinking about each step (especially for those of us who didn't grow up paying attention to driving). Once you have mastered your own vehicle, then you are free to start paying attention to all the other things going on around you. That's when you become a good driver.

In sympathy because I've been there :o)
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs


Unread post by cbollin » Tue May 29, 2007 2:04 pm

As someone who teaches children who struggle with many many things, here are my {hugs} to your child and to you.

I don't think he is being stubborn or resistant. He is 9 y.o and learning something difficult. He needs a few extra steps along the way.

*Try graph paper for division and 2 digit multiplication. It works wonders for my kid who struggles with keeping the place value issues. She's 11.

*consider modeling it for him many times over. For a long time, I would just tell my dd the steps. It was a "dress rehersal". We did it together, sometimes hand over hand --- or at least with me pointing and saying "put it here". We practiced together with me just point blank telling her what to do and where to put it. Then a day or so later, she was willing to try it on her own.

Feel free to put it aside until tomorrow and try again. It reminds me of how I feel when doing my taxes. I know where to put that stuff, but sometimes I need to take a break and deal with it tomorrow.

Hang in there and student and teacher --- take a break and bake some cookies together and don't make it a math lesson.


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Unread post by MJP » Tue May 29, 2007 2:35 pm

While it is hard, set a time limit every day. Then put it away. He will get it. As another poster suggested, also go on to something easier in the book as well. School should not be torture (Smile) for you or your son. One of my children is very much like this. It takes a loooong time, but then, it's there. Try to enjoy the process.
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Unread post by kellybell » Tue May 29, 2007 3:44 pm

I agree that school (especially homeschool) shouldn't be torture and I agree with Crystal's ideas of "dress rehearsal" math and baking cookies. Graph paper works too.

For math, we set timers. My 8 yo son (about the same age as yours) does 20 mins. a day, four days a week. It doesn't sound like much but he's getting it. So, for 20 mins. he does math. I keep an eye on him and often we do math together.

It's easy to fall into the quality vs. quantity issue. I'd rather have my dc do one hard problem really well than 20 problems that were rushed through, too easy to accomplish learning, or sloppily done. So, don't fear a one-problem day.

Perhaps start with the admission that "oh, this page is hard." Then, set a timer and see how many you can do together. The first day, the goal might be for him to watch you and understand. The next day, do the same sort of problem (or even copy down the original problem on a different sheet) and have him answer a few questions such as "Okay, what should I do next?" or "Well, where do I write the five, here or here?"

I don't know what Singapore teaches, but estimating is a great idea for hard problems. This helps kids know if they are in the right ballpark when they do their work. It serves as a nice check of the final answer. Of course, you can still goof up, but if your final answer is much different from the estimate, it's time to check your work.

Oh, and it's fine to take a week off math now and then. It seemed like a lot of my kids were having a tough math week, so I told them if they could work hard through Friday, then we'd take a week off. You can only pull this off once or twice a year, but sometimes a break is a blessing!
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

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Long Division

Unread post by ElaineTX » Tue May 29, 2007 3:49 pm

I once heard that there are some math topics that are just not gotten without tears involved -- long division is high on this list!

My dd doesn't usually struggle with math (although she's more of a reader/writer type), but long division with SM 3a was tough on her! Once thing I noticed is that the text doesn't seem to spend much time with easy division using the long division format They seemed to go from horizontal problems using the division sign to using the format for long division.

So, what worked for us was taking a break from Singapore and doing some easy division problems in the format of )---- to get her used to which number goes into the other, etc. (I had another math book that I pulled from my shelf, but you could probably find free worksheets online or use Wal-mart books.)

Then, when she was comfortable with that, it took a lot of going over the steps of long division together, including my game show sound effects for when a digit gets moved down to be utilized (silly, I know!), before she was able to do it on her own. Think about how many steps and how many different operations you use with long division! It was difficult for her to remember what to do next. She got it though! She is finishing up 4B right now and long division has been solid for a long time now.

Another thought -- long division problems can take a long time (and be even more frustrating) for a child who doesn't have math facts & tables down well. If this is a problem, you might also take some time to increase speed on basic math facts and tables so that each problem won't take so long. It's difficult to keep the long division steps straight in their minds while also taking a long time to subtract or multiply in the individual steps.

HTH! It's ok to stop and let this soak in awhile, and your child is certainly not the only one to struggle at this point! :-D

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Unread post by scmlg » Tue May 29, 2007 4:05 pm

Thank you all so much!!!

Yes, this is new territory for us. He has ALWAYS grasped Math so easily. I've not really ever had to get too creative with him. My second son, yes, we take the Singapore books VERY slowly. So, I'm used to it. Not with Curtis though.

So, I guess that's why I started second guessing him and "faking" it. I feel bad for that now, hearing all of you. Shame on me.

Anyway, another factor is that this is our last week of formal schooling till our break. So, again MY FAULT I'm in conquer mode, and the poor kid just needs a break.

Thank you for opening my eyes to this. There are no deadlines, I homeschool! I don't need to be in such a rush. We have forever to learn it. One day at a time.

I'm breathing again. :P

Mom to 3 boys. Curtis, 11, Kyle, 9.5, Colton 3 years old. Live in Amish Country, Ohio.

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Unread post by mamaofredheads » Tue May 29, 2007 5:37 pm

My heart goes out to you as well. :) We went through a similar struggle recently with double digit multiplication. After going through the steps with DS, I realized he knew how to do them verbally, but when he wrote things in the wrong place he missed the problem (obviously). We started using the graph paper with really big boxes. DS loves it. When I started to buy him a spiral bound notebook the other day for working out his problems he said no, that he wanted to keep using the paper I print for him. We're getting ready to start division in a week or so, so I'm sure it will help there too.

Another thing that helped him was working things out on the white board. I wrote the problem & added columns (so his numbers would be in straight line) & then if he put a number in the wrong spot it was not so painful to erase & do over - something about that white board & marker. :)

I agree with the others, set it aside for a few days, or show him that you understand it's hard & that you will work through it together. We've all been where you were today!!


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Unread post by Tina » Tue May 29, 2007 6:50 pm

Hi: I've only taught long division once and am going to have to do it again several more times. It was a tough task for us too.

I just wanted to add that the graph paper can save lots of time and tears. We also used lined paper on its side to keep proper place value as well. My dd preferred lined paper on its side (when she sees large division problems, she runs for the lined paper still to work it out) and working things out on a large white board at times too.

Take it slow. It will come.
Tina, homeschooling mother of Laura (1996), Jacob (1998) and Tucker (2003) In MO
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Unread post by Lucy » Wed May 30, 2007 12:56 pm

Misty, my heart goes out to you. I can remember when I was a classroom teacher doing this in 4th grade with a whole class. It was my first year and I had done manipulatives until I was blue in the face. I had used acronyms, I even had a special teacher come in and do a lesson on long division. Most of the class was just not getting it. It was my first year teaching and I felt like a failure. How do you move on? We did and came back to it later and most of the kids were able to get it later in the year. They just were not quite ready and needed a break.

I have found this to be the same with my own kids as well. It does not mean they are unable to learn it, but they are just not understanding where all those numbers go.

When my kids have gotten stuck on mastering something new, then I stop and have them practice a little each day on that while moving on to something else that is totally different (someone else posted this idea too). Some times I find they just need a break and some more practice while at the same feeling successful in another math area. Make sense?

Just a note -- my kids learned to do long division with another program and one of them still struggled. She has finally gotten it over time. She just needed lots of practice over a longer period of time.

I think this is what is meant by adding drill to Singapore. Besides the basic drills, different kids will need a little more time to practice more problems in a certain area. I have used Key to Fractions for one of my kids this year and also some on-line worksheets. I strongly agree with the poster who mentioned going back and practicing the first step of long division over and over again where a problem can only be divided once. Then add that next step.

I know some of this is a repeat of what others have said or suggested but sometimes I think it helps to know that you are not alone and that what others have done has worked. I hope this helps you to progress along.

Oh, and I would also recommend a time limit at this point so that you do not get so stressed out and your son does not either. I know I read along the way that when we get upset, something actually clicks in our brains and blocks anything from really coming in. I have also found this to be true for myself. . So if your son gets to this point he really may not be able to see or understand any more that day. I have experienced this over and over with one of my kids.

His grace to you,
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Ideas for division in 3A

Unread post by bethben » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:06 pm

sharij wrote:I am having a hard time teaching my daughter how to divide. She has done this previously, but suddenly has hit a "road block." We are currently using Singapore math and are in 3A page 79. We struggled through pg 69 and I tried to explain it to her again but she just isn't grasping it. Any suggestions?

I worry because she is behind in Math. She is 11 years old and only in 3A. She has struggled with her health the past 1 1/2 years, so it is possible that once she is healthy, she will be able to move more quickly. I am leaning on the Lord, but would sure appreciate any suggestions and certainly your prayers.
When I was teaching this to ds, I got out the base ten blocks. I had him divide the 10's into 2 or 3 groups, then divide the ones into the groups including the "10" that didn't get used in the first grouping. This helped him to see the concept.

Then, I go through each step with him while he writes it down. I'm sure you may be doing some of this or a combination of both. It may just take some practice. Also, a side note - if she doesn't have her multiplication and division facts down really well, it's going to be a lot tougher for her to do it quickly or easily. If this is the case, just spending some time memorizing those first would help a lot.

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thank you!

Unread post by sharij » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:07 am

God bless for your help!
We went over it last night with the blocks and will repeat it, again, today. I appreciate your help.



Unread post by cbollin » Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:22 pm

Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 12:35 pm

oh.... side issue from yesterday teaching my middle child, age 9, about long division with remainders. We had so much success with teaching it with the pictures in the textbook. I have to figure out a way to share that story. (it's in 3A). Wow!!! even my husband and I just sat there looking at it going --- we never learned it that way.

And maybe we just interpreted the Singapore pictures in a way that wasn't what they meant, but it just opened our eyes on it. Even brainiac 7th grade daughter said "why didn't you teach it that way to me?"



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