A discovery I've made as a homeschool mom is that a secret to teaching subtraction is....exploiting sibling rivalry.
Not what you're thinking. No--I don't mean setting your kids up to compete with each other. I mean, use their rivalry to help them understand practical application of math concepts.
This is the word problem you're given:
Suzie has 14 crayons. Mary has 18 crayons. What is the difference?You have explained to your child about 4,327 times that "what is the difference" means you subtract. Still, she looks at you like you're speaking another language. So you reword it and ask, "How many more crayons does Mary have than Suzie?" Again, a blank stare.
Now, say this:
You have 14 crayons. Your brother has 18 crayons. What is the difference?What immediately goes through your child's mind:
He has MORE than me. This is UNACCEPTABLE.And the calculation will happen almost instinctively. Actually, she will also be able to tell you that if he gives her two crayons, they will now have THE SAME.
4 - 2 1/3 = ?What is probably going through both your head and your child's:
Fractions??? Are you kidding me?A common problem is getting the fraction on the "wrong side"--in other words, your child may answer "2 2/3" or even "2 1/3" because 4-2=2, and they're not sure what to do with the fraction part.
Never fear. Say this:
You have 4 brownies. I'm going to give your sister 2 1/3. How much will you have left?
Notice--"the same" is of utmost importance.
And of course my disclaimer that I can't guarantee this will work with your kid, but my little Beasties.... ;)