


Improving Your Teaching Of Adding Up 
Adding is an idea that a large number of students find difficult to master. Hopefully, this article will present practical solutions to assist teachers and parents working with children who experience difficulties when learning to add. For most children, joining sets of physical objects is their most basic experience of addition. This strategy simply involves collecting two groups of objects, and then counting up how many objects there are in total. ie. the simple question 5 + 3 can be solved by building two towers of blocks, and counting up every block that has been used. A significant minority of children, particularly those with problems with attention, can find this approach very challenging. If the child is unable to hold their attention for the duration of the activity, blocks will be put awry, one of the towers will end up with extra blocks, blocks will get mixed up, and by the end of the activity the incorrect answer is arrived at. The length of the process, and its lack of transferability, mean that if the child in question does not grasp the concept quickly, they are unlikely to proceed at all. In addition, it is difficult to extend this methodology into a solution that can be tackled mentally: for example, try to imagine two large sets of cubes in your mind, and then count them up accurately. Even for adults, this is almost impossible. An alternative to the lengthy process discussed above is to use jottings. Write out the sum on a piece of a paper. Alongside the first number, draw the appropriate number of circles (for instance, for the number 8, draw 8 circles). Ask your student how many circles you'll need to draw alongside the other number in the sum. After they arrive at the right answer, tell them to draw the circles. Finally, ask them how many circles they have drawn on the page. This is a much easier method of bringing together 2 groups, is better suited to students with poor attention, and is less likely to be subject to mechanical error. It also encourages the student to relate what the written sum "says", and why they are drawing a certain number of circles. Playing board games is both enjoyable and a learning experience. Games that involve moving counters around a board (such as Ludo), do much to encourage children to count on. The child is needed to count the spots on the die, and move their playing piece along a corresponding number of places. If the board has numbers on it, the child can even see that the action is similar to counting out loud or using a number square. When using board games, always remember to emphasise the connections between this and adding up. A fantastic way of assisting students to acquire valuable addition skills is by allowing them to become familiar with money. You being by putting out a handful of pennies, and then help your student to count up the money, by tapping each coin sequentially and counting out loud. As you are using pennies, this is isn't difficult at all, as you are only required to count the number of coins. Now make the activity more demanding by including a 2p coin. When you get to this coin, say to your student that they are going to have to count it twice, because it is a 'two'. Count each of the coins as you did earlier, touching each as you go, but when you arrive at the 'two', tap it two times. Include further twos, and practise counting each one a relevant number of times. This easy activity will help your student add up quite long sums of money without using apparatus, and see the very real connection between counting and addition. Both before and after, tell the student that they are learning about addition. As a rule, our ability to solve addition in our minds is based on number facts we have learnt. We do not need to compute the solution to 5 add 6, we can remember it. Being able to remember a wide range of number facts allows us to tackle simple mathematics easily and quickly. Develop your student's awareness of number facts by singing rhymes together that tell stories of number. Try taking part in the game of matching pairs with your student, where the point of the game is identify the location of the question (eg. 3+4) and its answer from a set of cards all turned face down. Assemble a pack of flashcards with simple addition facts printed on them, pass them the cards one at a time, and then ask your child for the answer, providing plenty praise when they say the correct answer. Now add to the number of facts. Providing an activity that is pleasurable will help stop your child looking at mathematics as tedious. Practise makes perfect. The correct form of practise also lends greater confidence. By using simple worksheets and printables, aimed towards your child's level of skill, you can improve the student's ability with addition, both practically and in their head. There are lots of free sites on the web that offer printables to support the teaching of adding up; however, it does matter what maths worksheets you use. Check that the worksheets are of an appropriate length to maintain your child's interest and are differentiated at the right level, being neither too difficult, nor too easy. You should really be using sums that encourage their recollection of number bonds, mixed in with a handful of sums your student hasn't seen before. On the occasions that your student finds the correct answer, provide plenty of praise. If they get confused, do not look disappointed, but briefly explain how to solve the problem. In other words, using adding up worksheets and printables shrewdly can really improve your child's ability.
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