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MCSA Lockdown Tip 55

MCSA Lockdown Tip 55

Lockdown Day 55 – Adding and Subtracting

Numeracy and Arithmetic

Although flash cards and worksheets are often used to to help young children memorise maths operations, these are not appropriate for young children because the concepts they are supposed to be ‘teaching’ do not have any real meaning to them from the child’s perspective.

Children learn best when they are involved in the actual activity of the concept that is being taught. Hence, they will get more out of counting, adding and subtracting in real life situations.

An important part of the addition or subtraction operation is the language that is used in conjunction with the child’s experience. The child will become comfortable with the language and once the written symbol for the terms is introduced, the child will be able to work with understanding as s/he has prior concrete experiences to draw upon.


Any time is a good time for a Maths lesson!

Let’s take a meal time as an example. The child has a serving of peas on her/his plate.

  • Ask the child to use her/his fork to COUNT and move 5 peas to the side of the plate. We can now introduce the concept of ADDITION.
  • Ask the child to ADD another 3 peas.
  • What is the SUM of the peas that is now on the side?
  • When the child has counted the sum (8), reaffirm: That’s right! 5 peas and 3 peas gives us a TOTAL of 8 peas. Another word for ‘add’ is ‘PLUS‘. So we can say 5 plus 3 is the same as (or EQUALS) 8.

We can use the same method to introduce the child to the concept of SUBTRACTION.

  • You have 8 peas on the side of the plate.
  • Ask the child what happens if she TAKES AWAY 4 peas to eat (this is a good way to get the vegetables eaten too!)? How many peas will be LEFT?
  • Ask the child to count the DIFFERENCE between the number of peas that were initially there and the number of peas that were eaten (4).
  • Reaffirm: Yes! You had 8 peas and you ate 4 peas. Now there are 4 peas left. When we take an amount away, we say ‘MINUS‘. So, 8 minus 4 equals 4.

The child is nowhere close to writing these operations down as yet, but there is absolutely no reason why s/he should not be involved in learning and understanding these concepts at an early age.

There are many ways that addition and subtraction can be explored in your everyday activities at home. When children experience maths in this way, they learn the concepts and their value much better than if they are taught abstractly on paper.