Inverse operations are a fundamental concept taught to students from year one through year six and beyond. These operations are essentially opposites of each other, and one operation undoes the effect of the other.

Practical Approach with Blocks and a Whiteboard Pen

To help children understand inverse operations, a practical approach is used. For instance, let’s consider a missing number problem: 14 plus something equals 22. The goal is to find the missing number by rearranging the equation and using the inverse operation.

Identifying the Inverse Operation

The first step is to recognise the inverse operation of addition, which is subtraction. So, the addition symbol is replaced with a subtraction symbol.

Rearranging the Equation

To find the missing number, children should rearrange the numbers in the equation. We start with the largest number, which is 22, and then place the original number (14) next to it. The equals sign follows, and then a question mark, which represents the missing number we’re trying to find.

Solving for the Missing Number

Now, children can perform the subtraction to find the missing number. In this example, 22 minus 14 equals 8. So, the original number sentence becomes 14 plus 8 equals 22, and the missing number is indeed 8. This approach helps children understand how inverse operations can be used to solve for missing numbers in equations.