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My name is Claudia and I'm a teacher who helps parents with their kids remote and distance learning as well as well as how kids can best learn online and with technology!


Addition in Primary School: A Visual Guide for Parents

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

I have put together this visual guide to addition through years 1-4 to give parents a clearer idea of what kind of work their child is doing in maths. It is important for parents supporting with home learning to know where children's current learning is leading to. For example, prior to Year 1, children focus on counting, making groups of objects and counting the total of two groups with is the foundation for the year one addition.

I'm going to keep the captions really simple but I will provide links at the bottom for where you can find more detail and explanations.

Addition for Year 1 (5-6 years old)

Children use objects to help them solve simple problems. Another method is to draw pictorial representations to then count.

Children get familiar with number bonds to ten and start to gain an understanding of how number facts can be used...

... in missing number problems like this for example.

Addition in Year 2 (6-7 years old)

In year two numbers get bigger and objects and pictorial representations help children solve problems.

Here are three examples of problems that children look at in year two...

...and here's how children would solve them using their knowledge of units.

As you can see children split up the tens from the ones, add all the tens together and all the ones together and then find the answer.

Children will use their knowledge of number bonds more and more...

... and learn number bonds to 20 too.

Number facts will help them to come up with families of facts that help with addition and subtraction.

Addition in Year 3 (7-8 years old)

Children now start adding three-digit numbers to ones, tens and other three-digit numbers.

They can use their knowledge of units...

and the columnar method.

Addition in Year 4 (8-9 years old)

Children add four-digit numbers using the columnar method...


Bear in mind that this is an extremely simplified look at addition over the four years and of course many other aspects of maths are taught that support and integrate with an understanding of addition. The aim of this is just to give a broad overview of how addition skills progress over the years.

After Year 4 children tend to focus on making decisions on which methods to use and using multiple methods in solving more complex problems.

For more detailed but beautifully simple explanations of all the methods above, check out Math Mammoth on Youtube and for more details of the curriculum, see the UK Primary Curriculum for Maths.


I'm still learning! If there is something on this page that you think isn't right then please let me know.

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