Are your kids struggling with regrouping when solving addition problems? It could possibly be that they lack the number sense to solve it. Have you ever tried getting your child to solve the addition problem in a completely different way other than regrouping? Did you know most kids memorize the steps to regrouping and don’t actually understand the number sense behind it? There are many different strategies that can be used instead of regrouping. Solving these problems with other strategies will tremendously impact their ability to understand numbers.
When I was a child, we didn’t actually call it regrouping. We called it “carrying.” We would carry the numbers to the next place value and then add. The problem with “carrying,” or “regrouping” as we call it now, is that I didn’t understand a bit of what I was doing. I simply memorized how to “carry” the numbers and then add. I never really understood the number sense behind it until later on in probably fourth or fifth grade.
You may want to read this blog post to get more reasons why you should stop teaching regrouping at an early age: 10 Reasons Why You Should Stop Teaching Regrouping to Your Students.
As young math learners, kids understand math better when they have more practice with numbers through story problems and counting. As an educator in the public school system for 7 years, I learned the more experience they had with regrouping, the less they learned about place value and number sense of two and three digit numbers. The first year I taught second grade, I taught addition and subtraction with regrouping. I was new and was not well-trained yet. I just simply followed our math curriculum and how I was taught “carrying” as a child. The kids struggled SO much. Some finally figured out how to do it, yet they just memorized the steps. This was killing me! How could I teach them to solve it, but REALLY understand what they were doing?
Maybe you as a teacher or homeschool mom are having the same trouble with your students. Maybe your kids are a pro at it, but have you asked them if they really understand what they are doing? If so, that’s awesome! They are ready for it. If not, they may need some more practice with place value and simpler story problems to build their number sense.
Remember, I said kids learn from the more practice they have with story problems and counting. I don’t mean they learn from memorizing flash cards or memorizing the steps to regrouping for adding two and three digit numbers. Memorization in math has its place, yes. But not in the early years. In the early years, kids need to be learning math through their experiences. They need to be counting everything! They need to be solving story problem after story problem after story problem. If you have a toddler or preschooler, you may enjoy this post, Building Number Sense in Toddlers, about helping them to build number sense at such an early age.
Let me get back to my story about my second graders doing regrouping. That same school year I was being trained in Cognitively Guided Instruction for Mathematics (CGI for short.) I had some training at the beginning of the year, but this was mainly for single digit number sense and not for two and three digit numbers. That spring I went back to training and was confused about my class student work. We were asked to have our students solve a join result unknown problem, (an addition) problem with two digit numbers. My students solved it by regrouping. That is what they knew. My instructor in the course talked to me about this. I was teaching it all WRONG. I couldn’t believe it! How could our textbooks be telling us to teach regrouping?! This was crazy to me! CGI training changed how I thought about teaching mathematics.
If you are interested in learning about Cognitively Guided Instruction, CGI in Children’s Mathematics, you can purchase the book by clicking here. This shows SO many strategies students can use to solve problems rather than the standard algorithm way of regrouping. It is AMAZING approach to learning mathematics and I wholeheartedly believe in these strategies. The last three years of my teaching I have implemented these strategies in my classroom and it has changed their understanding of mathematics. They are going to be so much more successful at math in the later years. They now understand numbers in a way that took me many years to understand as a child.
So… you may be wondering …what are some of the strategies I need to be showing my kids? Well, actually CGI is about using your own thinking to solve the problem. Students need to be presented with the problem and they use their own way of thinking to solve the problem. With a classroom, its easy for students to share their strategies with others. However, as a homeschool mom, this could be a little difficult. I would suggest you acting as a student and solving the problem with them. Then each one of you can share your strategy. This way they are still being taught from their peers, (you are just pretending to be one). Also, if your child has any older siblings, they could solve the problem as well so that he can see one of his peers solve it and learn strategies from him.
Sometimes kids can tell you how they solved the problem, yet they have no clue how to write it down. That’s why I have included this free printable:
This will help you to show your child the proper way to write their thinking down on paper. From my experience, this is one of the hardest things for kids. They have a hard time writing down what they are thinking. They can solve it, but they can’t show you how on paper. Using this as a guide, you can effectively teach your child how to show their work.
So you may be thinking how do I start this with my child? Well, first I would just give your child a piece of paper and write a problem from left to right like this on the top:
542 + 258 = ?
Ask them to try solving this problem in a different way other than regrouping. See what they can do! You may be surprised at how much they can or can’t do. Next, iff they don’t know how to show their work, use the printable above to show them some ways to show their work on paper. If they just have no clue what to do, I would show them some of the strategies on the printable and discuss each part with them and be very detailed. Finally, ask questions like, “How did they get this?” on every part of the strategy so they can learn how they did it and try solving a similar problem that way also.
Using these CGI strategies for adding two and three digit numbers will make your child a far better math student! They will develop a sense of numbers like never before. These strategies are also great for solving story problems with two and three digit numbers. So, print off the free printable above, and try these strategies with your child or students in your classroom! You will be so pleased with their skills in mathematics in later years! Trust me!
Feel free to leave a comment below to let me and others know how these strategies are going with your kiddos! I would love to hear from you! God bless!
You can also pin the image below on Pinterest to save for later!