Essential Strategies For Tutors: Improving Addition Skills.

Published: 27th July 2009
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Addition is a process that countless students find hard to master. This article will tutors, teachers and parents provide a good grounding in this essential skill.



A simple way of assisting children to acquire valuable addition skills is by allowing them to handle money. You being by putting out a few pennies and tell your student to count the money, by pressing their finger on the coins sequentially and counting aloud. As you are using pennies, this is simple, as you are only required to count the number of coins. Now increase the difficulty of the activity by adding two pennies that have been glued together. When this coin is reached, explain to your child that we are going to count it twice, as it is a 'two'. Visit each of the coins as earlier, tapping each one as you go, but when you reach the 'two', tap it twice. Include ever more 2's, and practise counting each one the relevant number of times. This mathematical game should help your child add up quite long sums of money without using any apparatus, and see the very real relationship between counting and addition. Both before and after this process, remind the student that they are finding out about how to add numbers.



By and large, our ability to solve addition without apparatus is based on facts we have memorized. We don't have to compute the solution to 6 add 5, we can recall it. Being able to remember a range of addition facts permits us to tackle simple adding problems easily and confidently. Improve your student's knowledge of known number bonds by singing rhymes together which contain number stories. Try taking part in matching pairs games with the child, where the point of the game is remember the location of a question (for example, 5+5) and its corresponding answer from a small set of cards all turned face down. Assemble a set of flashcards with simple addition facts printed on them, give them the cards one at a time, and then ask the child for the answer, offering lots praise when they say the right answer. When they are confident, increase the number of cards. Providing an activity that is entertaining will prevent your student from looking at addition as tedious.



Playing board games is both enjoyable and a mathematical learning experience. Games that have a playing piece that is moved around a board (such as Ludo), do much to encourage children to count on. The child is asked to count the spots on the dice, and move their playing piece along the matching number of squares. If the board has numbers printed on it, your student can see that the process is similar to counting numbers aloud, or using a number line. When using board games, remember to mention the comparison between this and addition.



Practise makes perfect, and the correct kind of practise also lends greater confidence. By utilizing simple worksheets, targeted at the student's level of ability, you are able to improve your child's ability with addition, both written and orally. There are many free websites that offer printables that teach adding up, but it is important which mathematics printables you use. Ensure that the worksheets are of the correct length to keep the student's focus and are pitched at the right level. You should be presenting problems that further their recollection of number facts along with a small number of sums that require some calculation. When the student gets the correct answer, provide plenty of praise. When they need a lot of support, do not look upset, but show them how to complete the problem correctly. Using maths worksheets with discretion can really improve your student's skills.



Counting on is a technique based on your child's capacity to remember number names. When your student can count to five, practise asking them questions like: which number follows.... (ie. what number is 1 more than 4?) This is effectively equivalent to finding the solution to a sum like 2+1, but helps to build links between the concepts of addition and counting. Using this technique helps prepares your child to use number squares, and gives them the confidence to tackle problems in their head. It can be practised nearly anywhere, and doesn't need any practical apparatus. The technique can also be made more involved, with questions like: "which number is 2 more than..." When your child can respond to such problems out loud, give them the question written down, and tell them that this is the same as the question you had been looking at earlier. This will allow the child to see counting and addition as related concepts, and that this "new" problem is actually something they have already encountered.



Sarah Currigan is the co-author of http://www.worksheetgenius.com, a free website full of printable worksheets, puzzles and activities that can be differentiated and randomized at the touch of a button. Ideal for children at primary or elementary school. Readers may be interested to know that Worksheet Genius contains a whole section devoted to maths worksheets and printables.

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