Combining groups of physical objects: for many students, this is their most basic experience of adding up. This process normally involves collecting two sets of objects, then counting how many objects there are in total. (For example, by building two towers of cubes, and then counting up every single block.) For many, this method can be too involved, particularly for those students who present attention deficit disorder. If the child cannot hold their attention for the whole of the activity, blocks will be put awry, towers will end up with additional blocks, blocks will get mixed up, and at the end, the wrong answer is arrived at. The length of the process means that if your child does not master the concept quickly, they are not likely to make progress at all. In addition, it is difficult to extend this process into a calculation that can be approached mentally: for example, try to imagine two large sets of objects in your head, and then count them all up. Even for adults, this is nearly impossible.

Simple drawings: jottings are a more useful alternative to the process described above. Write out the addition problem on a sheet of paper, and next to the first number, jot down the appropriate number of tallies (for instance, for the number 4, draw 4 tallies). Ask your student to predict how many tallies you will need to draw by the other number in the problem. When they come to the correct answer, ask them to draw the tallies. To finish with, ask how many tallies they have drawn altogether. This method is a much easier way of bringing together 2 groups, is less likely to be subject to mechanical error, and is better suited to students with poor focus. It also encourages the child to associate between what the written sum actually says, and why they are drawing a certain number of tallies.

Playing board games: this activity can be both a mathematical learning experience as well as a pleasant pastime. Games that require a counter to be moved around a board do a lot to encourage children to count on. If the board has numbers on it, the child is able to see that the action is similar to counting out numbers aloud, or using a number line. Make a point of remembering to draw attention to the relationship between using board games and addition.