23 Strategies to Help Learners Who Have Trouble Solving Math Problems with Subtraction

Are you looking for strategies to help students who have trouble solving math problems with subtraction? If so, keep reading.

1. Provide the student with alternative math facts. As the student shows success, slowly introduce more components of the regular tasks.

2. Select a peer to model how to solve subtraction problems for the student.

3. Ask the student a question when they are most likely to be able to respond successfully.

4. Provide information to the student on a one-to-one basis or use a peer tutor.

5. Create a math facts reference sheet for subtraction for the student to use at their desk when solving math problems.

6. Talk about and give the student a list of words and phrases that usually indicate subtraction operations (e.g., difference between, from, left, how many less, how much taller, how much farther, etc.).

7. Assess the appropriateness of the task to ascertain (a) if the task is too easy, (b) if the task is too complicated, and (c) if the duration of time scheduled for the task is sufficient.

8. Give chances for the student to apply subtraction facts in real-life situations (e.g., getting change in the cafeteria, measuring the length of objects in industrial arts, etc.).

9. Get the student to be a tutor and teach a concept they have learned to another student.

10. Get the student to check all math work. Praise the student for each error they correct.

11. Get the student to independently solve half their subtraction problems each day. Let them use a calculator to solve the other half of the task as reinforcement.

12. Get the student to subtract a specific number of objects from a group, then pair number symbols with the objects while the student solves the subtraction problem. For the last step, the student subtracts the number of symbols without using objects.

13. Get the student to perform timed drills with subtraction facts as reinforcement. The student “competes” against their own best times.

14. Get the student to solve subtraction problems by manipulating objects and stating the process(es) involved.

15. Get the student to talk through math problems as they solve them to find errors they are making.

16. Get the student to use a calculator for drill of basic subtraction facts.

17. Get the student to use a calculator to reinforce the process of subtraction. Get the student to solve several problems each day using a calculator.

18. Give the student a number line attached to their desk to help solve subtraction problems.

19. Provide all instructions, questions, and explanations in a clear, concise manner and at an appropriate rate for the student.

20. Make sure that the language used to connect with the student about subtraction is consistent (e.g., “Subtract the numbers.” “What is the difference? etc.).

21. Consider using Alexa for the Math Classroom.

22. Try gamifying your math lessons.

23. Consider using one of the apps and tools from our many math app lists:

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