# How to teach a child to add without using fingers

If your child is still using their fingers to add numbers then here’s 2 ways that will help your child learn how to add without using fingers.

1. A quick and easy to learn fun game that can you can play with them.
2. Practicing basic addition skills.

### Looking at the game first.

This is a game that I play with my students. It only takes a few minutes to play and doesn’t take long to learn. It’s a good way of getting your child focused on listening to you and not thinking about how they feel about Maths.

You pick a number between 1 and 10 to start with. 5 is a good number to start with. The game starts with you saying any number that adds with another number to equal 5. For example 4. Your child needs to say the correct number that adds with your number to equal 5. If they get it right then you choose a different number and they have to say what the other number is that adds to 5.

You keep changing the number and your child keeps saying the other number that adds with yours to equal 5 until they are saying the right number each time you say a number, and they are saying it quicker each time. In other words they are learning the addition pairs that add to five. When they encounter a Maths sum with any of those pairs that add up to 5, your child will find it a lot easier to work out the answer without having to use their fingers.

Over time you can choose a harder number between 1 and 11 and a good thing to do is ask your child what number they want to play the game with. You still say the first number when you play and your child says the number that adds with yours to equal the number they chose. That way your child is doing the learning while you are choosing a different number to say each time, thus keeping control of where the game is going.

Of course you can say the same number again especially if your child gets their first answer incorrect. When I play this game with my students I wait when they haven’t got the right number and they know they’ve got the wrong answer. If you do it this way then all you have to do is focus on what number you are going to say and your child will be focusing on getting the right number that adds with yours to equal the “number”.

Over time your child will remember some or even all of these number pairs for numbers between 1 and 11. They’ll have confidence with numbers and will be better at adding numbers. They will like playing the “Number” game and it’s a good way of sparking them up a bit as a break when doing Maths.

### Now looking at the basic addition exercises.

Practicing basic addition exercises are one of the best way of helping your child progress from using their fingers to add numbers, to confidently adding them using pen and paper without needing to use their fingers.

A few key points:
1. These exercises need to be easy to start with and gradually increase in difficulty.
2. The exercises need to be practiced on a regular basis. A couple of times a week is good. Doing them at home every day after school and your child will be making faster progress.
3. Your child will get even better results and greater confidence if they practice subtraction, muliplication and division exercises after they’ve done the addition exercises. Doing all four will give your child a well rounded skill set of the basic operations. It will also give them ongoing confidence when it comes to using their number skills in other areas of their school Maths.

Getting struggling students back on track in Maths starts with the basics and the basics start with good basic number skills. I see this time and time with my students. After spending regular time at the start of each lesson doing the four basic operations their confidence and skill level with numbers increases from their very first lesson. It’s a gradual process but the regular practice in just one tutoring lesson a week has a profound impact on their confidence with Maths.

They look forward to doing the four operations at the start of each lesson and in a very short time they’re building other skills as well and their school work starts to get easier to do. This has all started just from practicing basic number skills.

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