Tips to Help Kids Understand Fractions

Fractions can be a confusing topic for some students. Read on to learn how you can help your children better understand the uses of fractions.

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The simplest way to help kids understand fractions is to teach kids to think of a fraction as a division problem that hasn't been solved yet. Fractions were invented long before calculators and even before decimal numbers. They were invented as a way of showing portions of numbers having a value less than 1, and although they are often more difficult to work with than decimals they are still used in the modern world.

Fraction Components

To review, there are two components of a fraction: numerator and denominator. The number on top is the numerator and the denominator is the number on the bottom.

Example: the fraction 2/3.

This fraction can be read as two-thirds, two divided by three, or two over three.

All fractions can be easily converted to decimals by simply dividing. In the example above, the fraction 2/3 converts to the decimal .666667.

Other terms that are important for kids to understand when using fractions include:

Proper Fractions

When the numerator is smaller than the denominator the fraction is a proper fraction. 3/4 is a proper fraction.

Improper Fractions

If the numerator is equal to or greater than the denominator, this makes an improper fraction. 3/2 and 2/2 are both improper fractions.

Mixed Numbers

An expression which consists of a whole number and a proper fraction together is called a mixed number. If the number includes both a whole number and a fraction, the number is a mixed number. 2 2/3 is a mixed number. A mixed number may be converted to an improper fraction if you multiply the whole number by the denominator, then add the product to the numerator, so 2 2/3 = 8/3

Equivalent Fractions

The same fraction can be represented several ways. These fractions are known as equivalent fractions. 2/3, 4/6, 20/30 are all equivalent fractions.


Every non-zero fraction has a reciprocal. To see if two fractions are reciprocal fractions simply multiply them together. If the product equals 1, they are reciprocal. 2/3 and 3/2 are reciprocal fractions.

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