How to Teach Long Division

Students typically in fourth grade have the challenge of learning how to divide with long division. Because long division requires a sequence of dividing, multiplying and subtracting, some students have difficulty remembering what process to do when. Children must practice the process repeatedly before they learn it satisfactorily, but with effort and patience, teachers can help children master long division.


  1. Division without Remainders

    • 1

      Write a long division problem on a chalkboard. Make this problem a simple one without remainders to begin; for example, write 93/3 on the chalkboard. Perform the steps of long division on the chalkboard while discussing each step. Have students copy each step as you write it on the board as the task of writing the steps will help them follow and understand the process.

    • 2

      Tell students that they must use division facts as they work long division problems. Ask students how many times 3 goes into 9. When you get the answer "3," tell students that this answer goes above the 9.

    • 3

      Instruct students to multiply the 3 above the 9 by the divisor (3) to get 9. Write this 9 below the 9 in the dividend.

    • 4

      Subtract the 9 from the 9 to equal 0. Bring down the 3 by writing it beside the 0.

    • 5

      Instruct students to determine how many times 3 goes into 3. When you get the answer "1," tell students that this answer goes above the 3 in the dividend.

    • 6

      Multiply the 1 above the 3 by the divisor (3) to get 3. Write this 3 below the "03" and subtract 3 from 3 to equal 0. This produces the answer "31" to the problem of 93 divided by 3.

    • 7

      Have students practice performing long division problems without remainders until they can solve the problems proficiently without help.

    Division with Remainders

    • 1

      Introduce dividing with remainders with a long division problem that will result in a remainder, such as 114/9. Work through the problem by dividing the 9 into the 11 of the dividend and place a 1 over the middle digit (the 1) of the dividend.

    • 2

      Subtract the 9 from the 11 to equal 2. Bring the 4 down beside the 2 to make the dividend 24.

    • 3

      Divide 9 into 24 to equal 2. Place the 2 over the 4 of the dividend and multiply the 2 by the 9 to equal 18.

    • 4

      Subtract 18 from 24 to equal 6. Show children that because you cannot divide 6 by 9, the 6 is a "remainder." Write an "r" after the answer 12 and then write the 6.

    • 5

      Move to larger problems with two-digit divisors and larger dividends as students gain proficiency and confidence with long division.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ensure that students have a strong proficiency with multiplication and division facts before presenting long division. As with simpler math operations, repetition is key to mastery.. Ask students to practice problems from time to time, beginning with simpler problems and ending with more complex problems to build on successes. Practice with problems the class can see, such as dividing the class into teams of differing sizes to see what the "remainders" would be.
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  • Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

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