Fractions is said to be one of a student’s first experiences with complex mathematics, beyond the basic ‘add, subtract, multiply and divide’. The understanding of fractions is a building-block for other math skills. It helps learners understand the nature of numbers and their interactions. It also introduces the learner to the essentials of number theory and lays down a foundation for Algebra, Geometry and other complicated math theories. This proves that although some students may prefer to pretend that fractions do not exist, this often complex math component remains fundamental and should be focused on. In fact, fractions are used in day to day activities, such as driving a car or even measuring out ingredients to prepare a meal. Anything that requires doing measurements, or working out dimensions, size or quantities, relies on the ability to do fractions.

Helping your child understand and grasp this important Mathematical concepts play a big role in the possible career paths they may choose one day. For example, future architects and doctors will benefit from putting in the work when it comes to learning fractions. Both vocations rely heavily on accuracy and numeral literacy. Other more technical career fields, such as computer programming, urban planning or science, require you to give concise instructions too. Exact calculations are needed when building a house, or even when making important decisions with regards to agriculture or the economy. Fractions are important for many other career paths, such as for seamstresses or pharmacists.

As parents, checking math homework and helping to study for math exams can be unnerving, and often ineffective, if you do not have some sort of an understanding of the subject too. Fortunately there are numerous fraction calculator’s available, to make things easier for us! With technology progressing as rapidly as it has, we are now able to help our children work out their fractions by using a web fraction calculator and even mobile app fraction calculator! Here are some examples of these:

The web fraction calculator is an easy way to work out equations relating to fractions. Using this online calculator is as easy as entering the fraction into the fields provided, selecting the operation you would like to perform (for example, multiply or divide) and then clicking on the ‘calculate’ button. You are able to solve various fraction problems, including whole and mixed numbers and improper fractions. Keep in mind that this type of calculator is merely a way to confirm your own calculations and that learning to understand how to do the calculation is the ultimate goal!

**Mobile App Fraction Calculator**

There are a variety of mobile applications that can assist you with mathematics. One app, called DLD Calc, is a free fractions calculator, downloadable to any android device. The app goes a bit further than simply giving you the answer. It displays each step in the calculation, providing learners with the opportunity to cross check their own calculations. The app is unique because it actually teaches learners how to get to the answers themselves, and shows them the error in their own work. The solution is displayed, step by step, and is fairly easy to understand since the DLD Calc looks fairly similar to the standard calculator application.

**Electronic Fraction Calculator**

The standard scientific calculator, also known as a graphing calculator, is able to perform advanced mathematical functions. These calculators are allowed in most high schools and, if used correctly, can help learners to work with fractions, including the more difficult algebraic fractions and mixed number fractions. To do so, simply enter the numerator of the fraction (which is the number above the fraction bar), press the divide key and then enter in the denominator of the fraction (this is the bottom number in the fraction). The answer will show up as a decimal, since the numerator is divided by the denominator. Simply convert the decimal figure back into fraction, to get to your answer. For example, you can enable “fraction mode” in the TI-84 calculator, a device manufactured by Texas Instrument, to see all results in fraction format. Most modern programming language, such as Python, includes built-in language support for fractions. If you or your child can code, you can create your own fraction calculator in minutes.

**When not to use a calculator**

Relying solely on any type of technology can create an ethos of lazy thinking amongst students. The same could be said for the usage of a calculator – on one hand it is a necessary tool in the classroom, but on the other, relying on it too heavily can be a hindrance and may create complacency. A clever way to look at it is: You should use a calculator only when you understand what the calculator is doing. Instead of simply relying on the calculator to determine the answer for you, try to figure out the steps the calculator would have to go through in order to reach the answer.

Since calculators are fast and accurate, they offer a relief when there are time constraints. But they are not just there to give speedy answers. Encourage the use of a calculator only to check to see if the learner has worked out the calculation correctly. If the answers do not match, the learner can go back and recheck their work, to determine where they went wrong and which areas they still need help understanding.

Students are spurred on to learn the fundamentals of math, without resting on technology. Learning how to do math long-hand goes a long way towards developing math skills. A study published in *Psychological Science *confirms the importance of learning basic math and reported that understanding fractions and division by age ten played a big role in overall math achievement in high school. In a statement, cognitive psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University, Robert Siegler, shared: “We suspected that early knowledge in these areas was absolutely crucial to later learning of more advanced mathematics, but did not have any evidence until now.” He went on to share that the mastery of fractions, ratios and proportions is important and is necessary in a high percentage of contemporary occupations. It goes without saying that fractions plays a fundamental part of a learner’s development and ensuring that the foundation is laid down well, during early years, will guarantee success later on.

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