How to Teach Students to Figure the Gratuity at a Restaurant

Schoolchildren begin to learn basic percentages around third or fourth grade. One practical application for using percentages in day-to-day situations is tipping in restaurants. Parents model this behavior when they take their families out to eat. A child as young as 9 or 10 can learn how to figure out the right gratuity at a restaurant without using a calculator. This will strengthen his math skills and teach him the value of using math in daily life.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil


  1. Gratuity of 15 Percent

    • 1

      Look at the total amount of the bill before taxes.

    • 2

      Figure 10 percent of the bill. For examples, if the bill totals $55.15, move the decimal point one space to the left. This amount, $5.515, equals 10 percent of the bill.

    • 3

      Drop off the last digit of the number.

    • 4

      Divide the resulting number, $5.51, by 2. This answer is 5 percent of the tip. In this case, the answer is $2.755. Again, drop the last digit.

    • 5

      Add the two answers together. The amount of 10 percent is $5.51 and the amount of 5 percent is $2.75. The total equals 15 percent — in this case, $8.26.

    Gratuity of 20 Percent

    • 6

      Look at the total bill before taxes.

    • 7

      Figure out what 10 percent of the bill is. For example, if the bill equals $32.69, move the decimal over one place to the left to determine 10 percent of the bill, in this case $3.269. Write this amount down.

    • 8

      Drop off the last number, in this case, the "9." That leaves you with $3.26.

    • 9

      Double this number to arrive at 20 percent. Add the two numbers together or multiply, using the paper and pencil to figure out your answer if needed. In this case, $3.26 plus $3.26 equals $6.52.

Tips & Warnings

  • Teach your children to figure out both 15 and 20 percent of the tip. They will eventually learn to quickly estimate these amounts in their heads without using a pencil and paper. They can adjust the tip according to how good their service was.
  • Check your bill to make sure that a gratuity is not included. It might be added in if you have a large party.
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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

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