**Different Methods to Reduce Fractions**

Do you have a student who struggles with reducing fractions? Do you cringe at the mire thought of working with fractions? Perhaps you are that student, and perhaps you are frustrated with the concept of reducing fractions. If so, you are not alone!

When learning or tutoring a student in the art of reducing fractions, you should first determine if they have mastered foundational fraction concepts. Do they have the needed vocabulary and know what the parts of a fraction are called? Have they mastered basic math facts such as multiplication and division? What about the understanding of “part of a whole” or “part of a group”? Can they describe real-life situations that involve fractions?

As I ponder myself how to teach reducing or simplifying of fractions, I am reminded that “baby steps” are often necessary and repetition is a must! Students often want to jump to the final concept, but unless they have all the pieces of the puzzle (foundational fraction concepts), they will struggle getting the correct answer.

**Students MUST know their basic multiplication and basic division facts. **One method of reducing fractions is through a process of dividing the numerator and denominator by the same number. They should have the basic understanding that any nonzero number divided by itself is 1. In other words, when reducing a fraction, the numerator and denominator is divided by the same number.

Students are proportionally reducing the fraction therefore making the fraction “look differently” but still the same. If there were two pizzas of the same size and the first was divided into two equal parts and the other was divided into four equal parts, 1/2 of a pizza would be the same as 2/4 of a pizza.

Students should also know how to break a number into Product of Prime Numbers. To do this they will need to know their division facts as well as an understanding of what a prime number is. Why, because a second method of reducing fractions is using prime factorization.

Students should know the divisibility rules for 2, 3, 5, 6, and 10. Have them look at fractions to determine if both the numerator and denominator can be divided by the same number. Why, because they can use those skills to more quickly reduce fractions. Caution: Their fraction may not be fully reduced if they ONLY divide using 2, 3, 5, 6, and 10.