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Year 4 maths, does it matter if not using chunking?

(13 Posts)
kilmuir Mon 03-Nov-14 22:47:43

DD is in year 4. Struggles a bit with maths. Homework sheet tonight is a page of multiplication, subtraction and addition. She can manage it using the old fashioned column method but not with school chunking method.
Does she need to persevere with chunking?

Oakmaiden Mon 03-Nov-14 22:53:09

I would. Children who are adept at using chunking generally come to understand the process better, whereas most children do the column method as a formula without understanding why they do the things in the way they are done. This makes a difference later on, when maths gets more complicated.

Sorry - not terribly eloquent tonight.

atticusclaw Mon 03-Nov-14 22:53:37

i think the schools try to teach different methods now so that they have a variety of methods at their fingertips. I would persevere.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 03-Nov-14 22:55:23

What is chunking?

Ds is in year 6 & as far as I know uses the column method but sometimes does mental arithmetic using my mums 'nearly numbers' method.

kilmuir Mon 03-Nov-14 22:59:04

Yes, i think i may mention it to teacher. She seemed to grasp units, tens, hundreds etc but got in a pickle regardless!

jacobibatoli Mon 10-Nov-14 22:53:21

Picturesinthefirelight, I didn't know so looked it up

kilmuir , I would refer that my dd could do the long division method than chunking if there was a choice

PS not great fan of chunking or grid method though

I wonder if these new methods are delivering a better understanding?

my dd could do teh long division method and not chunking I woudl be happy

jacobibatoli Mon 10-Nov-14 22:55:57

Picturesinthefirelight, I didn't know so looked it up

kilmuir, I would prefer that my dd could do the long division method rather than chunking if there was a choice

I wonder if these new methods are delivering a better understanding?

PS not great fan of chunking or grid method though

18yearstooold Tue 11-Nov-14 00:13:57

The idea is to teach lots of methods so that children have a number of strategies available to them which is especially helpful for mental maths

These aren't new techniques as they have been around since the late 90s

Formal methods are very much on the curriculum but it's important that children understand how they work rather than just following the process

I would just mention to the teacher that homework was attempted but not really understood

PastSellByDate Tue 11-Nov-14 09:51:13


'chunking' is effectively working multiples/ breaking numbers down to their constituent parts (hundreds/ tends/ units) and in practice means a child can work with numbers they know.

For example, in the problem 15 x 45 knowing that that multiplication problem can also be thought of as

10 x 45 = 450


5 x 45 = 225 (you may need to work that out or you can use knowledge that 5 is 1/2 of 10 - so 5 x 45 is 1/2 of 10 x 45).

then adding these two sums together:

450 + 225 = 675
(again possible using chunking - so adding hundreds - 400 + 200 = 600/ adding tens 50 + 20 = 70 and adding units - 0 + 5 = 5 and then adding 3 together - 600 + 70 + 5 = 675).

I suppose the easiest way to think about it is with someone new to multiplication/ division beyond multiplication tables (x0 - x12) - they may need to work with mutliplication facts that know when mutliplying by x15, x36, x99, etc.....

I think there's a tendency in schools to insist that pupils only use chunking until KS2 Upper - which probably isn't helpful (especially for more advanced students) - but the point is a pupil has to actually demonstrate they get this step. In essence when doing old fashioned vertical multiplication/ long division (sometimes called bus stop method) we do actually go through these steps but we have little tricks - like moving over one column to the left when multiplying by the next digit (e.g. if mutliplying by x14 first working x4 and placing answer below each number and then working x1 (but placing a 0 in the units column to 'hold that place' or sometimes not even bothering with the 0 but moving x1 answers over a column (recognising you're now multiplying by x10).

There's a really useful game involving chunking on BBC Bitesize which will give your DC some useful practice on these concepts for multiplication/ division:

I think for those of us very comfortable with long multiplication/ division - chunking seems a very long winded process with so many steps (both multiplication/ division and then adding everything up) that it seems more likely (and indeed in the case of DD1 definitely WAS more likely) errors would be made along the way.

To be honest - most children at DD1s primary were using old fashioned long multiplication/ division methods but 'played the game' with chunking to keep the teacher happy.


Toomanyhouseguests Wed 12-Nov-14 10:32:20

We are fed up with chunking. It's slow, clunky, and offers the chance of more errors in transposing numbers. Our yr6 DD needs to sit 11+ exams in January and we are encouraging her to become adept with the column method or she will be toast in timed exams.

alittletreat Wed 12-Nov-14 11:36:37

My dd1 never get used to chunking. Her timestable knowledge is very good so at home I taught her long division and she took to the long division method right away. Dd managed to learn the method only by doing a few examples. Because the long division method allows her to see clearly how a number being broken down step by step and even into decimals. Unfortunately dd was stuck in the bottom set during primary school and only the higher sets were expected to have learned enough timestable cope with bus stop and long division. The bottom set children had to put up with chunking. I am glad that now in yr7 dd doesn't have to put up with it anymore. I said to dd that chunking is useful when the numbers in a question are way outside of her timestable knowledge. Basically she only need to keep subtracting a number. I don't disagree with chunking but it is all the fiddles around the method makes chunking confessing.

TeenAndTween Wed 12-Nov-14 14:43:19

I too am not convinced on chunking for addition, subtraction or multiplication.

I like number lines, but even my then y4 DD2 (who struggles at school) was able to move directly from number lines to column for addition and subtraction.

I like the grid method for multiplication, I think it is less error prone than any chunking method. However I believe it has fallen out of favour with the updated NC. My y11 DD1 still uses the grid method and it is serving her well.

For division I've got lost on the terminology, but some form of expanded long division taking off in chunks is I think a good first step after numberlines. ie What you would do on a number line but vertically instead (and using column subtraction to do the subtraction bit).

PastSellByDate Thu 13-Nov-14 10:46:17

I think the issue to 'win' with any school - is that there are a number of different methods to solve any calculation and that if a child finds a method which works for them, they should be allowed to do majority of work in that method.

I think knowing other methods is useful in that it shows you other ways of thinking through numbers - the educational mistake (in my opinion the pedagogy is wrong here) is insisting children persist with a method which they don't like/ understand/ find natural.

so for me dividing something by 14 - I work the multiples of 14 naturally - for DD1 - she works the problem with multiples of 10s and 4s. DD2 sort of works in steps:

So knowing 10 x 14 = 140 she knows that 255 divided by 14 will be >10 but <20 (which would be 280). In fact I've caught her just taking away 14s from 280 (in similar problems). 280 - 14 = 266 and 266 - 14 = 252. So that was two 14s which makes 20 - 2 = 18

so 255 divided by 14 = 18 remainder 3 (remainder worked out by subtracting 252 from 255).

It's correct -not at all what I or DD1 would do - but it works.

DD2 knows how to do long division - and can do it - but her default is this method including adding/ subtracting from known multiples.

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