Pre-fraction Concepts of Preschoolers

  • Robert P. Hunting
  • Christopher F. Sharpley
Part of the Recent Research in Psychology book series (PSYCHOLOGY)


Much school mathematics is devoted to teaching concepts and procedures based on those units that form the core of whole number arithmetic, such as ones, tens, and hundreds. Other topics such as fractions and decimals demand new and extended understanding of units and their relationships. Researchers have noted how children’s whole number ideas interfere with their efforts to learn fractions (Behr, Wachsmuth, Post, & Lesh, 1984; Hunting, 1986; Streefland, 1984). Hunting (1986) suggested that a reason why children seem to have difficulty learning stable and appropriate meanings for fractions is because instruction on fractions, if delayed too long, allows whole number knowledge to become the predominant scheme to which fraction language and symbolism is then related. There is some evidence which suggests that children can successfully complete fraction-related tasks earlier than when these procedures are taught in school. Polkinghome (1935) concluded from a study of 266 kindergarten, first, second, and third grade children that considerable knowledge of fractions is held prior to formal instruction in this topic, and Gunderson and Gunderson (1957) demonstrated that second graders had concepts and ideas about fractions that could be developed subsequently.


Grade Child Single Pile Continuous Quantity Partitioning Behavior Mathematic Education Research Group 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert P. Hunting
  • Christopher F. Sharpley

There are no affiliations available

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