How could you explain what “Average” is to a child?

I always throw a question in my business statistic class:

” How could you explain about “Average” when you are asked by a kid?”

As of today, I have not encountered even a single person who was able to answer properly.

Some people said ” total devided by the number of data”.

But it is just how to calculate but not what average is.


While average is one of the most basic tools, it is not easy to understand.


Average is the leveled size of data, regardless of how many data you have.

You can assume each single data as a candel.

If those candles melt, the height of the melted chunk of candle is the average.


A dictionary says: Average is a statistic describing the location of a distribution.

More confusing for anyone………………….


2 responses to “How could you explain what “Average” is to a child?

  1. Average is a model for a group. It’s what’s “typical” – a way to describe what’s going on in a group with a single number. With children, we typically hand a small group varying numbers of something – blocks, cookies, M&Ms, etc. We ask them to share so that they have the same amount (or close to it). We then ask them to return the shared items and what number might be a good answer to the question: What is the typical number of cookies (blocks, etc) for this group? Usually the will say the number that each person had when they were evenly shared.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I love the idea to let children share what they have.
    In my class, I avoid to use the word “typical” to describe the average as it may mislead the students. If 5 students got 0(zero) points while the other 5 students 100 points, the average is 50. But “50” does not represent the group at all and it is not a “typical” number of the group. Typical or not depends on the distribution of the original data.

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