What it is about memorizing multiplication tables that make my kids throw their pencil across the room and shout, “I hate math?” It is because, unlike spelling or vocabulary, numbers don’t create pictures for us. Multiplication tables are strings of seemingly random numbers that our children are expected to not only remember, but keep in order and in context with the numbers they are multiplying by.
If a child is really confused about decimals, converting decimal numnbers into money is a great way to make things clearer. For example: a child may be asked to say how much bigger 1.3 is than 0.9. If they convert these decimals into money (£1.30 and 90p) they may find that they can do this calculation very quickly in their head, getting the answer 40p which they convert back into the decimal, 0.4. Demonstrating that money maths depends on decimal understanding is also an easy way to prove that decimals are actually useful in real life!