When I was an elementary school teacher, I always knew when it was long division week in the fourth grade. My normally positive and energetic colleagues would come to the staff room slumped over and exhausted, commiserating and complaining about the drudgery and frustrations of teaching so many children this complicated process. I particularly recall a day when one teacher, normally very reserved and quiet, demonstrated the “long division dance” that she’d created out of desperation to help her students learn the steps!

Even though long division can strike fear into the heart of even veteran teachers, I have two pieces of good news for you:

- As homeschool moms, we only have to teach long division to one child at a time. (Well, maybe two if you have twins. But not 25.)
- With a hands-on approach, children can not only learn
*how*to do long division, but also*why*it works. This saves a lot of time in the long run, because they can more readily remember the steps, find their own mistakes, and deal with more complex long division situations.

**In the video below, I demonstrate how to teach long division so that your child will learn both the how and the why of long division.** (Or, if you want to get a little jargon-y, so that your child will develop both *procedural fluency* and *conceptual understanding*.) All you’ll need is a sheet of graph paper (for keeping the digits lined up) and some play money with 1s, 10s, and 100s.

(Sorry that some of the money is off-screen. My production equipment consists of our very basic camera on a tripod, and I didn’t zoom out quite enough!)

**Have any more questions about teaching long division? Have a different topic you’d like me to demonstrate in a video? Let’s chat about it in the comments! **

Haley Scholz says

Kate,

Thank you so much for posting this! It is exactly what I was looking for. I am currently doing my field experience and am working with a student who has a hard time getting motivated. I think this will help tremendously. I have a question about how you might assess them after teaching them this lesson. I hate the “work sheet” approach and was wondering if I could pick your brain about any other ideas you might have. Thank you again,

Haley

Kate says

Glad it was helpful, Haley! You might try using a small whiteboard rather than worksheets–kids often find it less intimidating to work one problem at a time with a whiteboard rather than facing down a whole page of them.

Jill says

My son is struggling with 2 digit divisors. Do you have any suggestions for that?

Kate says

Two-digit divisors are hard! If he’s struggling with the concept of it, I’d go back to 1-digit to review the overall process and then show him how the 2-digit divisor process has the same steps but just with more difficult calculations.

But for most kids, it’s the calculations that are the problem. Usually, it’s the estimations. My main advice is to always round the divisor up to the next multiple of 10 to make the estimations easier. So, for example, if you’re dividing 837 by 46, round the 46 up to 50. Then, after he multiplies and subtracts, if he finds that his estimate was too low, have him adjust the number in the quotient and subtract out another group (rather than erasing all the work.) This is hard to explain in words, but I hope it makes sense.

And my last suggestion is graph paper, or lined paper turned sideways so that the lines help line up all the columns. This makes a huge difference for many kids. Hope this helps!