By: Abby Gordon
Your second grader is learning a method of adding numbers that is probably totally
unfamiliar to you. You are not alone; parents around the country are wondering
what this new method of “Partial Sums” is all about! There’s really nothing all that
new or tricky about partial sums. What’s newish in the U.S. (but not in other
countries) is the emphasis on conceptual understanding over rote memorization.
Luckily, conceptual understanding has always been paramount at SRV, so this
method comes really naturally to your children, and it builds perfectly on addition
strategies they have already learned.
Here’s a short video of how to add using partial sums. There are lots of other videos
online that show this method slightly differently. What’s important — and what’s
always important in math — is not that your child follows the steps absolutely
perfectly, but that your child makes sense of what he or she is doing. All of these
strategies are meant to build number sense and fluency. If drawing lines between
the places helps him or her, great. If writing out the addition problem (the partial
sum that they’re solving) on each line helps, do that.