Original Research

Learning support pedagogy for children who struggle to develop the concepts underlying the operations of addition and subtraction of numbers: the ‘Calculia’ programme

Annemarie Fritz-Stratmann, Antje Ehlert, Gabriele Klüsener
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 4, No 3 | a232 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v4i3.232 | © 2014 Annemarie Fritz-Stratmann, Antje Ehlert, Gabriele Klüsener | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2015 | Published: 30 December 2014

About the author(s)

Annemarie Fritz-Stratmann, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany University of Johannesburg, Germany
Antje Ehlert,
Gabriele Klüsener,

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This paper argues for teaching pre-service teachers about remediation strategies for learners who encounter problems in mathematics in the early grades. The premise is that all teachers should be equipped with theory-based practical knowledge to support learning. A few teaching sessions to develop the concepts that underlie the mathematical operations of addition and subtraction are introduced in this paper. An empirically validated, comprehensive model of cumulative arithmetic competence development from the ages of four to eight years forms the basis for the construction of the suggested teaching unit. The model distinguishes five competence levels of arithmetical conceptual development, and proposes that concepts build on one another hierarchically. A ‘part plus part is equivalent to whole’ model was constructed based on this hierarchical structure and the understanding that the concept of addition is a dynamic process. The teaching examples include exercises for all children, not only ones who struggle. Possibilities for adapting the exercises to the individual development level of slower or faster learners are also included. All exercises are accompanied by a reflection on the procedure and strategies applied in order to support meaningful and sustainable learning and to give student teachers the opportunity to use knowledge of mathematical cognition theory during their pre-service years.


mathematics remediation, elementary school, foundation phase, conceptual development, remedial programme, Germany, mathematical cognition, pre-service teacher education


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