What is the bus stop method for division?

What is the bus stop method?
We explain what the bus stop method for division or short division is and why this is a quick and efficient method for working out division with larger numbers.

What is the bus stop method?

Once a child has mastered division by chunking, they will often be shown the quicker 'bus stop' method. (This is also known as short-hand division or short 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.