Adding & Subtracting Integers

by | Sep 29, 2020


Part of math entails dealing with positive and negative numbers in integers, and still it is a field that most children are unable to grasp. You can help your children quickly learn the fundamentals of positive and negative numbers by recalling a couple of simple rules.


It seems daunting to add integers, but there are two laws that will work with any issue with addition.

  • same signs = add the numbers, and keep the same sign                            (Ex: 3 + 2 = 5  or -3 + -2 = -5)
  • different signs = subtract the numbers, and keep the sign of the bigger number   (Ex: -3 + 2 = -1  or  3 + -2 = 1)


For most children, subtracting integers seems to be the trickiest process. However, subtraction can be easier for children to learn by taking three steps.

  • Change the subtraction sign to an addition sign
  • Then change sign of the second number
  • Finally follow the addition rules to get your answer
  • Example:  -3 – 2 =   becomes  -3 + -2 =    or   3 – -2 = becomes 3 + 2 =

These simple concepts will give students a solid base for dealing with integer numbers in the future when the he/she starts to think about positive and negative values. Students should write these rules on an index card. During math time, they can then hold the card in front of them until they have memorized the rules.