Chunking - a guide to the new long division

The way long division is taught in schools has changed and the chances are that when your son or daughter mentions dividing by chunking you'll be baffled.  

But don't worry - you've come to the right place for help and the good news is that it really is quite simple.

So why change long division to chunking?

Chunking is the new method for long division that's been taught in UK schools for the last 10 years or so.

So what's wrong good old long division? I hear you ask - well, quite a bit. The main issue is that long division provides answers without understanding. To kids it was like some kind of mathematical voodoo - do this, do that, then this and your answer goes here...

And what's wrong with that? Well educationally, it's much better if kids understand where the answer comes from.

So what is chunking?

Chunking is the new way to divide big numbers. The idea is scary but it's really quite simple.

You can think of it like this: Imagine someone gave you 620 sweets to share between 14 kids. You don't have to know the exact answer to start sharing - you simply start handing them out in chunks making sure you don't exceed the total.

So you start by giving out say 20 each - that's 280 gone and  340 left. So you give out 20 again. That's another 280 gone, 560 gone in total, and there's 60 left. Finally, you give out 4 each (14 lots of 4 = 56) and there's a remainder of 4.

The answer to 620 divided by 14 is  20 + 20 + 4 = 44 reminder 4. Each child gets 44 sweets and they fight over the remaining 4.

The Komodo level "dividing big numbers" teaches division by chunking (see part of the guidance video above).

That's all there is to chunking. You've almost certainly used it already!

I'm Ged, Co-founder of Komodo, ex-maths teacher and dad. If you have any questions please get in touch.

About KomodoKomodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning maths (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy routine. Komodo users develop fluency and confidence in maths - without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at maths - you can even try Komodo for free.

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