Tips to Help Kids Understand Decimals

The decimal numbering system is the basis for modern number theory. Read on to learn how to help your children understand decimal places, percentages, and place values.

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To help students understand decimals, you must first teach them the concept of the place values. The concept of place value is the key to our whole number system. The number zero was invented as a symbol to represent nothing, and its role in our number system is to hold place for a value. For example, the number '1000' has three zero place holders. It has no hundreds, no tens, and no ones, so 1000 needs three zeros to keep the place.

Moving the decimal increases or decreases the value by a power of 10, meaning each place to the left of the decimal is 10 times the value of the one directly to its right. The order is ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, and so forth.

Our decimal system gives us the flexibility to write numbers as large or small as we like. The key to the decimal system is the decimal point. Anything on the left of the decimal point represents a whole number, anything on the right of the decimal represents less than one (similar to a fraction). Going from left to right, the value of each place on the right of the decimal point is 1/10 the value of the place on the left.

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