# Talk

## How do they teach basic sums (+ - / x) in KS1?

(21 Posts)
lechatnoir Mon 22-Oct-12 19:41:58

Much as the title says really I'm just wondering how primary schools teach basic addition, subtraction, multiplication & division?

Seemingly simply homework questions stumped DS (6.5 in yr 2) and it's made me realise that whilst I know the answer, I have no idea how DS is expected to work out the answer or how to help him. Some of the questions include:
1. 16 boys, all need 2 gloves each, how many in total?
2. There are 67 boys and 84 girls - what's the difference?
3. A girl has 4 cats, how many cats legs in total?
4. There are 8 tables and 5 can sit at each table. How many people can sit down altogether?

Can anyone either point me in the right direction of a good teaching methods website or run through the basic principles?!

messtins Mon 22-Oct-12 19:43:57

They are quite hard questions to expain to a six year old I think. For Q.2 I would count on from 67 using fingers (yours and his) until you get to 84 or count on from 67 using a number line. Q.4 In year 2 they should have been taught to count in 5s even if he doesn't know it as a times table, I'd get him to count in 5s using his fingers until he gets to 8x. The others i'm not sure, draw them maybe? Sorry, probably not very helpful!

Mon 22-Oct-12 19:54:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Brycie Mon 22-Oct-12 20:00:36

They aren't really difficult arithmentically for an six and a half year old - it's made difficult by the fact that they're word problems, there are so many "thinking steps" to do, and they have to work out by themselves what the question is before they can answer it.

Maybe she's stumped by that.

Why don't you write the questions down arithmetically to see if that's what she's finding hard. If she gets them straight off then you know it's more about how to solve a word problem. If she struggles with the arithmetic then she's in some ways not really ready for word problems. If she can explain the word problem but still doesn't know the answer then she needs work on her times tables. (or repeat addition).

I think you have to identify what the problem is first.

alcofrolic Mon 22-Oct-12 20:03:09

Draw them.

mrz Mon 22-Oct-12 20:13:05

Yes they teach it and IMHE most children who can happily complete pages of calculations struggle as soon as it's presented as a word problem

cumbrialass Mon 22-Oct-12 20:19:30

One key area is the vocabulary, pick out the words in the problem which point to the correct operation, so for example " total" usually means add, difference would be subtract, altogether would be addition ( or multiplication) etc.
P.S "sums" should only be additions, the rest are calculations!

alcofrolic Mon 22-Oct-12 20:32:33

If they are being set word problems, they really should have experienced them at school first. We have a set way of tackling word problems, which involves highlighting important words, thinking which operation to use, writing the number sentence to solve the problem, and writing the answer (the actual answer - to the question, such as 13 children or 6 apples).

I would not send this for homework without reminders of how to tackle a word problem.

mrz Mon 22-Oct-12 20:49:26

I would be very surprised if the teacher was sending home work they hadn't already experienced in class, wouldn't you?

crazygracieuk Mon 22-Oct-12 21:23:45

I have a son the same age.
For divide he'd make dots to represent the first number and draw circles to divide them.
So 12 divided 4: he'd draw 12 dots and make circles in such a way that there are 4 dots in each circle.

Subtraction: Number line method.
For 89-52 he'd have 89 on the right and 52 on the left. from 52 he's make jumps of +10 +10 +10 +7 so 37 is the answer.
For the times question he'd draw 4 circles to represent the cats and put 4 dots in each circle.

Mon 22-Oct-12 21:28:24

DD was taught to use a highlighter or crayon to highlight the actual number parts of the word problem first, and then the words that tell them the type of sum (+, -, x, /)

Q1. doubling. double the tens, double the units - then add together
Q2. add tens, add units, add together - or use a number square - go down for 10s, across for units
Q3. How many legs does a cat have, how many cats does she have, then either "lots of" for x or adding
Q4. as above

alcofrolic Mon 22-Oct-12 22:22:41

Not really, mrz, otherwise the OP wouldn't be asking the question. Obviously ds doesn't know how to do it, and there are no guidelines.

Or were you being tongue in cheek?

learnandsay Tue 23-Oct-12 07:11:06

The fact that the boy doesn't know the answers doesn't mean that he hasn't been shown the method, all it proves is that he can't remember it.

Tue 23-Oct-12 07:26:14

double 16
number line
number line & draw it out
draw it out (problem 4 is pretty hard for 6yo, but some will stretch to knowing times tables)

SoundsWrite Tue 23-Oct-12 09:32:35

Alcofrolic says, "Draw them!" S/he's right!
By drawing them, you concretise the problem and instead of the problem being abstract, it immediately becomes obvious. Why some teachers don't seem to understand this is beyond me: they don't seem to know what the children find difficult to understand .
Singapore Math Practice books do a great job of situating problems such as the one Lechatnoir raises in real, concrete contexts. They're very cheap on Amazon .

Taffraid Tue 23-Oct-12 12:48:46

Number lines and the 100 Square are used at the DC's school

lechatnoir Tue 23-Oct-12 14:20:01

Thank you all so much. Using pictures definitely helps but it doesn't really work when you get into the big numbers so those explanations were really helpful and a great place to start.

I happened to mention to a couple of other y2 parents my issue and it seems they are also struggling so I'm going to ask their teacher if she consider doing a short maths 'workshop' for parents (they did a phonics one in YR that was great) or failing that some sort of quick reference guide outlining the methods they use.

Tue 23-Oct-12 16:43:35

SoundsWrite - imo children are first shown how to do it visually - drawing it, using actual objects, using blocks or numicon, etc. Then move onto using the words and number lines/squares etc. Never seen any school introduce this kind of thing without doing it visually before doing it written.

mrz Tue 23-Oct-12 17:33:12

No alcofrolic I was being deadly serious.
The number of times my own children swore down they didn't know how to do something and hadn't done it at school only for me to look at their school books on parents evening to discover they had been covered it thoroughly in school.

crazygracieuk Tue 23-Oct-12 18:07:24

I have a child the same age and sometimes he needs a quick memory jog after swearing blind that they hadn't covered it at school.

The questions are not easy so if it's the word problem format that's the problem then I'd be using physical objects like 4 legged soft toys for the cat question.

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