people playing with plastic numbers

Addition for younger years

Building a good relationship with maths from a young age is hugely important. So many of our students come to us hating maths; in turn they struggle. Mastering the core skills like addition, subtraction and multiplication is a huge area of the curriculum. Teachers usually begin with addition. Throughout your child’s primary school journey, they will be learning a range of skills involving addition. We can’t stress enough that it is vital that your child understands what addition really means before they learn how to complete abstract calculations. In this blog, you’ll find our tips on how to support you child in learning addition at home.

Everyday addition

By bringing addition into daily tasks it highlights to your child the importance of addition in everyday life. Highlight the need to use addition to work out how many cups will be needed when setting the table etc.


As mentioned in previous blogs, roleplay can be a hugely effective tool. Use puppets or soft toys to get calculations wrong. Then ask your child to help explain to the puppet why it was wrong. Asking your child to take a turn at teaching is an effective way to learn. As a parent try and make up situations for your child to use addition. Play shops, schools or other roleplays where addition is required.

Word Problems

Turning this activity on its head by letting your child write (or say) the story can help them think carefully about what constitutes addition. When writing an addition word problem, they will need to remember that at least two amounts are needed, as well as a reason for them to be added. Once they’ve written a story to go with their calculation, they can then work out the answer.

Use aids

From an early age when your child brings home addition homework, use objects e.g. beads to help your child picture the numbers in a more tangible way. You could help them with this by giving them a picture or a group of objects. For example: draw a picture of two fields and put six cows in one and three cows in another. Encourage your child to say a problem to go with this picture. Alternatively, you could put five of their cuddly toys on the bed and two toys on the floor. Ask them to say a story problem to go with this scenario.


Playing games such as adding the digits on a car’s number plate, adding the number of motorbikes and bicycles you can see on a journey can be a nice way of making addition fun.

Maths manipulatives

Children are taught to use various maths manipulatives in school (number lines, number squares, base 10, numicon). These help your child to visualise numbers and number patterns. As a parent, it is good to get an understanding how they are used and encourage your child to use them when needed. Find more information about what maths manipulatives are here.

You will find some helpful apps here and maths story resources here. If you are worried about what level your child should be at with their maths, have a look at our blog series. This details what level your child should be at based on their year group.

If you have any concerns or worries about your child’s addition or maths ability as a whole feel free to contact us here at Primary Tutor Project. We have highly skilled tutors who will be able to get your child to see the importance of addition!