Long Division

Teaching my son long division has been a big challenge full of frustration, yelling, crying and trying. It took quite a while before he was ready for the challenge, and then once he was it took several days before he got it. The entire process took about a week, but in the end he got it! Here is how we did it.

I knew he was ready for long division. We have blasted past it a few times as it was explained in the Life of Fred curriculum we are using. He can divide small numbers in his head and knows most of his math facts. Long division was the next big milestone. Finally he was requested to do a problem in his book. That's when the fun started.

My son is a child who learns best by figuring things out on his own. He is very visual and sometimes learns by reading, but telling him what to do almost never works. For me that creates an extra challenge.

Our Method
Money is something we can all relate to, so we divided money. Each day I gave my son some 10's, 1's, dimes, and pennies and asked him to divide the money between 3 people. These units were used because they coordinate directly to place value. No quarters, nickels or 5 dollar bills were used or allowed.

After he divided the actual money we did the same problem with paper. On the paper we wrote down divide, multiply, subtract, bring down so he could remember the steps and relate them to the paper money. Now because my son is a figure it out kind of kid, I gave him a second quantity of money and asked him to divide the money and do the problem on paper by himself.

This process was repeated about four days in a row. Each day I would do a problem with him and then ask him to do one on his own. We always divided by 3, and always used 10's, 1's, dimes and pennies to divide amounts of money such as $55.41. The first two days were very long. He worked on his problem for most of the morning before I asked if he would like me to finish it for him.

Each day he was able to get a little farther in the process. He also began to see the correlation between the money and the paper. He realized when he only had two dimes and needed to trade them for pennies was the same as when he subtracted and was left with a 2. By the end he was able to do a problem on his own in less than 10 minutes.

Once he understood this we added a bit of variation. We divided a large number such as 1,452,324 by 3. Then we tried a problem divisible by 5. By then he had it.

Wow! How did you teach long division?


  1. Long division is so tough. This looks like a great way to work on it.

  2. Love your methods. Miss our chats. Keep posting & I will keep reading.
    Susan W

  3. Very clever! I think I will try this with my learner. It would be nice to go without the frustration..

  4. Very clever! I think I will try this with my learner. It would be nice to go without the frustration..

  5. I have to agree long division is just one of those things some kids really struggle with! What a great way to make it more enjoyable! Hope you have a great week!

  6. thanks this is great! I am pinning it for future use -we are just starting multiplication and division with DD7

  7. This is a wonderful idea for hands-on math! I loved reading about the process your son went through. Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow


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