Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Addition Again

Sorry to bore you guys, but it's yet another lengthy blog about how i teach addition! No pictures again because i didn't use any visual aids.

I taught sonshine boy how to add by two using skip counting. He knew how to count in twos, so i got him to use this knowledge to add in 2. But that didn't sit well with me because i knew he was memorizing.

Fortunately, he spotted the pattern- he figured to add by 2, he needs to skip a number to get the answer. For instance, he realised that to add 2 to 56 means he has to skip 57 to get 58. I was surprised he could identify the pattern it was something i never showed him. Although this means he can manage all additions by 2, i was still uncomfortable with this method.

I know there are parents who teach multiplication/times table by memory but i much prefer otherwise. It would be easy for N to memorize but at this age, i'd rather he make a conscious effort to calculate. By memory, there'll be a limited number of sums he can do. But if he knows how to calculate, he would be able to manage limitless equations without me having to go through every single sum. And although, i think N is ready to learn multiplication, i rather he grasp the addition concept (adding by mulitples) first. This way, multiplication will come naturally to him. I feel in Maths, we need to take a step at a time. The basic foundation has to be laid first before moving on to the next. Otherwise, it may be too complicated for the child to understand.

And so, i went on to teach N how to add by 3 (see previous entry). Again, it didn't sit well with me because i soon realise he can only add up to 33. He needs visual aids (the mathematical cubes) to calculate other sums say 88+3- which i means 91 cubes, that's not practical.

Once again, i experimented another method when i taught him to add 4. This time i used my trusted....FINGERS! As i say out an equation i.e. 5+4, i stuck out 4 fingers  one at a time. As i do that, i counted 1,2,3,4 (to show that to add 4, we take out 4 fingers). Then i repeated the question FIVE plus 4 equals? As i pointed to each finger, i whispered 'six, seven, eight...' i stopped at the 4th finger and waited for N to shout out 'NINE!'. I did this several times over until he understood the concept.

I'm happy to announce, this method works! Now without my fingers, he can now add 4 to any numbers i.e. 88+4, 53+4 and i didn't have to go through every single sum. WOOT! I reckon this means it'd be a breeze to teach him subsequent sums?


  1. Great job. I remember the relief when my older boy started to count in thought without using his fingers and counters. He also managed to discover the patterns behind addition all by himself. Like you I do not like learning things by heart, especially with math. Keep the good job. Thanks for sharing with us your techniques. It's always good to read what other parents are doing with their kids. Hugs from Poland. Ewa

  2. WOW all the way from Poland! Thank you for dropping by and the nice comments! HUgs to you too! :))

  3. Great progress, applause for mommy and N!^-^


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