Most kindergarten classes are taking on addition at this time in the year. Addition is more than just memorizing facts. Often times families help their child memorize facts and then the child does not want to do that work behind understanding addition concepts. While this is not a huge deal now, it might be later on.

Educators have recognized the need to teach mental math, that is what “new” math is in the early years… mental math on paper. We teach children to not just memorize, but think math. You will see there is a lot more story problems and very few facts sheets.

Now this does not mean that we do not want children to memorize math facts, but we want them to understand the thinking behind the facts too.

For example instead saying solve 4+5, teachers might say: There are 4 large books and 5 small books on the table. How many books are on the table? We want to see the children move from drawing 4 large books and 5 small books and counting each book to moving towards 4+5=9.

For this fact, they might say:

• Put the big number in my head and count up from there 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
• that they know that 4+4 is 8 and one more is 9
• Or they may say that 5+5 is 10 and one less is 9.

While these steps might seem like a lot to teach and learn, it is actually how you do mental addition. Look at the numbers you have, determine a fact you know and manipulate the numbers from there. We talk about making the facts less messy. Later they will learn to break down numbers into 100s, 10s and 1s and then use this breakdown to add.

Ok… so what does that mean for me as a parent? I encourage you to get your child to manipulate math facts. Tell them number stories and help them illustrate the answer. Challenge them with multiple addends. Look at addition as anything that means more.

• 6 birds are in the tree. 4 more land on the branch. How many birds are in the tree now?
• There are some children in the room. 3 have on jackets and 7 have on sweaters. How many children are in the room?

They also will need to solve facts with missing addends

• There are 4 pink candies and some yellow candies on a plate. There is enough candy for 9 children to each get one piece. How many of the candies were yellow? 4+__=9 (four pink and how many yellow makes 9 pieces is this fact)
• 10 children line up to get a drink of water. Some have their own water bottles and 2 need to get a cup. How many have their own water bottle. 10= ____ + 2

Present facts as number sentences with the answer on either side of the = sign. Use symbols to represent the missing fact piece. Often you will see a box used, but try to use other signs too, this will help later when getting into harder algebraic equations.