# ELI5, How to approach addition and subtraction for a five year old

I was helping a student with math the other day. He’s 5.5 years old and was learning to count and some basics of addition and subtraction.

Counting by 1’s and 2’sHad seen that acronym ELI5 before, so this is literally that.

So he did not have too much of a foundation with substantial repetition or memorization.

However, he can count to 120 fairly accurately and could add numbers with mistakes here and there.

His situation made me think a bit about how counting comes up in different forms in many areas of math. “Fancy counting” was the phrase that Vi Hart used, https://youtu.be/N-7tcTIrers

I was thinking that he was doing pretty well with counting, So that seemed like a good starting place to base addition and subtraction.

What he did with his fingers was interesting to watch. He would use his fingers and then count them all together. So for 5 +3, five fingers on one hand and 3 on the other.

Stemming from that method, he could have the two numbers on each hand. 5 and 3 for example. But then start with the bigger number, beginning with 5 and then counting 6 7 8 rather than starting with 1 and counting all the fingers.

Could do something similar for subtraction. Getting more repetition with counting up and down and starting in different places could also help I think.