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Short and long Division



You're not alone if the thought of long division brings you out in a cold sweat! But division is taught differently nowadays to the way many parents learned and you'll need to understand the new method in order to be able to support your child at home.

In this section of the site you'll find lots of division worksheets covering areas including the sharing method of division, short division, the long division method, the chunking methodknowing your division factsinverse operations – multiplication and division – long division with decimals and fractions as division.


How do you do short division or the bus stop method?


Here's a step-by-step guide to the bus stop method:

  • I start by thinking about whether 7 will go into 3.
  • It doesn't, so I think about whether 7 will go into 36. It goes 5 times to make 35. I put the 5 over the 6.
  • There is a remainder of 1, so this 1 goes next to the 2 to make 12.
  • I know that 7 goes into 12 once and there is a remainder of 5, so I write 1 over the 2 and put 'R 5' at the end.

The bus stop method can also be used to divide three-digit numbers by two-digit numbers:

  • I start by working out how many times 23 will go into 54. It goes in twice, so I put 2 above the 4.
  • There is a remainder of 8, which I put next to the 7.
  • I now think about how many times 23 goes into 87. 
  • It goes in 3 times with a remainder of 18, so I put 3 over the 7 and then write 'R 18' at the end.

The bus stop method is a very quick and efficient technique for working out division with larger numbers, however teachers tend to teach children chunking before they use this method.


Chunking helps children to be properly aware of multiplication being the inverse of division and about how many times a number will 'go' into another. They need to use their estimating skills when using this method and take educated guesses as to how to proceed. Once they have mastered this, it is then appropriate for them to go onto the quicker bus stop method.


Long division: a step-by-step guide


Long division is set out in the following way.





When do children learn to use different division methods?

Children start learning about division in Year 1, where they may be asked to share an even number of objects between two people. 

They start learning their times tables in Year 2, at which time they also learn their division facts (for example, they learn that if 4 x 5 = 20, then 20 ÷ 5 = 4). 

They continue to learn the rest of their times tables, including division facts through Year 3 and Year 4. 

In Year 5 they will learn to divide three-digit and four-digit numbers by a one-digit number using short division (this is also known as the 'bus stop' method). They then move onto dividing larger numbers by two-digit numbers using long division, as shown above. 

Teachers formerly used to teach children the method of chunking, however under the 2014 curriculum they are advised to use short division and long division.