Introducing Column Addition

by Laurie Laurendeau on November 15, 2009


Children get very excited about exploring larger numbers.  Once they have learned their Addition Math Facts, they will be introduced to the concept of Column Addition.  Column Addition is adding 2-digit numbers (or larger) to other numbers.  For example, 23 + 15:  This would be written vertically with one number on top, and the other on the bottom:


+ 15


  • When children first begin Column Addition, they will be given questions where each column adds up to a sum (answer) of 9 or less. This is sometimes called “Addition without Regrouping”.  The concept of regrouping, or “carrying the 1”, comes later, once children have mastered this beginning concept of Column Addition.
  • Before your child begins Column Addition, be sure he understands the concept of Place Value; that is, that he knows that the column to the far right is called the Ones column, and the digits represented in that column are single units.  The next column to the left of the Ones column is called the Tens column, and each digit in that column is worth a number in the tens (ex: 2 in the Tens column is worth 20).
  • Explain to your child what the line under the equation means (equal sign).
  • There are two main methods that children will use to solve Beginning Column Addition problems.  I will explain the “Traditional” method today, and I will discuss the other method in my next blog.  The Traditional method will probably look very familiar to you, as it is likely the way you learned to add when you were young.  The child begins by looking at the numbers in the Ones column.  He adds the numbers in the Ones column, and writes the sum (answer) below the line.  He then adds the numbers in the Tens column, and writes the sum below the line.  Encourage your child to use his Math Facts and not to rely on finger counting!


  • Be sure your child is only solving problems where the sum (answer) of each column is not bigger than 9.


  • Math Facts
  • Place Value
  • Partial Sums Method of Addition


  • Have questions or ideas about this story?
  • Need help or advice about your child’s learning?
  • Have ideas for future Parent Homework Help stories?

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