The Difficulty of Manipulating Numbers
Children who have been taught how to count often find it is a pleasant game to play with parents or teachers, and they love numbers when they are young. As soon as their formal schooling begins, those numbers take on a whole new meaning of their own that is very different from the counting games they have already practiced. The students begin with learning how to add and subtract, the two simplest ways to manipulate integers. While most of them find it easy to total up several numbers, subtraction is often the bane of their young existence.
The difficulty in subtracting numbers is that it is one of the first abstract concepts children are taught, and they have to grasp the meaning of taking something in the physical world away. Youngsters are continually adding information, language and objects to their world before schooling begins. They get more toys to add to their toy boxes during holidays and birthdays, yet few of them notice when old and broken ones are taken away. This is the reason the concept can be difficult to understand.
It takes a great deal of patience to help young students get through these basic steps of learning mathematics, but it can be done. Applying concepts to objects in the real world is often the best way to help them see the effects of an addition or subtraction problem, and it helps them internalize the information. The visualization of adding objects or taking them out of the picture is their way of translating the problems they are asked to solve.
Children are not really resistant to learning how to add and subtract, but they do find it difficult to comprehend. Patient teachers have long been trying to find an easy way for them to grasp the subject, but old-fashioned methods still work best for the majority.