What is partitioning? Partitioning is a method of dividing numbers up to help children understand how to add or multiply. It tends to be used in primary schools before children move onto column addition (the traditional method).

  • As an example in partitioning 730+32 would be expressed as 700+30+30+2=762

When do children learn partitioning?

Children learn partitioning and use it at various stages. To start with they may use it in year three before they move onto column addition (as above).

Later on, children will use it to help with multiplication and with decimals.

Partitioning helps children to begin to do more complex calculations more easily by breaking the calculation into its constituent parts.

How can partitioning help with multiplication?

If children were given a sum such as  46×9 they might use partitioning as follows:

  • 40×9=360
  • 6×9=54
  • 360+54=414
  • So 46×9=414

We can see that breaking the sum down using partitioning and then building it back up again makes things easier for children.  Of course, using partitioning isn’t as quick a method as column multiplication but it often plays a valuable role in getting children to multiply more complex numbers without knocking their confidence.

How can partitioning help with decimals?

Teachers often use partitioning to introduce children to decimal multiplication rather than go straight to the column method.

Have a look at the calculation below to see how partitioning can be used with decimal multiplication.

4.5×8 = ?  Instead, we break this down using partitioning as follows:

  • 4×8= 24
  • 0.5×8= 4
  • 24+4= 28
  • 4.5×8= 28

How does Learning Street help children with partitioning?

We introduce children to partitioning where it is useful as a device to help them do more complicated sums with confidence.

It’s also the case that children need a very good knowledge of place values to be able to use decimals with confidence so there is a great deal of crossover into other areas.  Partitioning is used by us as a useful method of ensuring place value knowledge is secure.

Children will gradually develop their knowledge of this in a planned and structured way within our programmes.  It is also the case that some selective tests (which we also prepare children for) develop questions that require a very sound knowledge of place value.

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