Article Summary: "Even before a child starts
school they can be taught valuable subtraction lessons in various ways.
Let's say that you are going to the store and you give your child $5 to
buy whatever he/she wants, although the outcomes can and usually will vary,
they are learning subtraction at its most basic level."
Subtraction is taught at the school level in grade 2, sometimes it is introduced in grade 1 but really when you think about it, kids are learning subtraction at a much earlier age and just do not know the formal title for it. Even before a child starts school they can be taught valuable subtraction lessons in various ways. Let's say that you are going to the store and you give your child $5 to buy whatever he/she wants, although the outcomes can and usually will vary, they are learning subtraction at its most basic level. Outcome #1: the child selects something that exceeds the $5 so that leaves a few options, they don't have enough money and have to make a new selection, or you loan them the difference which will be subtracted from their next allowance of money, or they will have to know what the difference is that they are short and save for it. In any event, the child will be learning about subtraction this way. The same technique can be used with the ice cream truck.
Children often have a difficult time with subtraction, especially if it is introduced in a dull and boring manner. Unfortunately, in the past one of the best ways to teach subtraction to children has been through rewarding them with food, namely candy. Let's face it, you can not usually lure a child to learn with carrots and celery but with today's health conscious society the candy games are not as abundant as they have been in the past, but they do work. Using an actual item, like food, helps a lot of kids because you actually get to see the math that you are doing. You can even use your food to help you solve your math homework problems. Nothing works better than Skittles or jelly beans to teach a child how to subtract numbers.
Crayons, pencils, and paperclips are good alternatives because they are easy to move and around and you can use them for math without having to waste them. Each item can be added together or separated apart to help you see the math you are doing. Games are another great way to learn subtraction. There are many games that involve math concepts. These include cards, dominoes, checkers, chess, and Yahtzee. Take a second to think about the skills that are needed to play these games. There are also math games on the computer and the Internet that will help you understand math skills. Before kids can master the basics of subtraction, they need to understand the nature of adding and taking away. Subtraction tends to be a concept that is especially difficult to comprehend.
Teachers should challenge their students to think creatively about numbers from the beginning so that confusion does not set in; once it does it can be difficult to reverse. Teachers usually don't encourage children to count on their fingers but almost as a second nature it seems as if children are just prone to do so. Instead they usually have the kids use a series of parallel lines. Once a child starts to grasp the concept of subtraction then they need to gain fluency. Teachers who make learning math something that is fun rather than dreaded are really doing the child justice for later on in life. Many times when left with a sour taste in their mouth at an early age about math, that will carry through with a child into adulthood. Pairing children together is a great way to motivate them to learn math. It is very important that educators understand that math concepts will be more easily understood when they are built on a solid understanding of the basics first.