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Adding + It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics
subtracting, which moves students toward the more difficult and error-prone procedure of counting down. Ultimately, most children begin to use recall or a rapid mental procedure to solve these problems, and they come to recognize that the same general method can be used to solve a variety of problems.
Children come to understand the meaning of addition in the context of word problems. As we noted in the previous section, children move from counting to more general methods to solve different classes of problems. As they do, they also develop greater fluency with each specific method. We call these specific counting methods procedures. Although educators have long recognized that children use a variety of procedures to solve single-digit addition problems,12 substantial research from all over the world now indicates that children move through a progression of different procedures to find the sum of single-digit numbers.13
This progression is depicted in Box 6–1. First, children count out objects for the first addend, count out objects for the second addend, and count all of the objects (count all). This general counting-all procedure then becomes abbreviated, internalized, and abstracted as children become more experienced with it. Next, they notice that they do not have to count the objects for the first addend but can start with the number in the first or the larger addend and count on the objects in the other addend (count on). As children count
Box 6–1Learning Progression for Single-Digit Addition