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Numbers form the basic foundation in a child’s math learning. Understanding types of numbers is vital for the math success of a child. A child usually gets introduced to integers at the elementary stage that develops a foundational knowledge of numbers. During this level, students need to apply their former math knowledge of numbers to build new concepts that diverge from their prior knowledge. Learning addition and subtraction of integers is difficult due to the presence of positive and negative signs attached to them. For implementing such conceptual knowledge, they need to have prerequisite skills, such as a basic understanding of numbers, addition, and subtraction, and also what a positive and negative number is. 


There are a few common mistakes associated with the learning of integers, due to which students feel the addition and subtraction of integers is difficult. Integers are positive and negative numbers, and students have to learn that integers are whole numbers with a positive or a negative sign. Sometimes students lack this basic understanding and try to add or subtract the positive and negative integers by using the value they started with for the solution. This makes them confused, and they use incorrect signs for the solution. Moreover, if students don’t possess a strong conceptual knowledge of these numbers, the addition and subtraction of integers will become a difficult concept for them to learn.


Mastering the basic arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of integers are crucial to achieving success in algebra. Learning the simple operation of addition might seem easy but can be a little confusing when the operations are performed together. Understanding and learning the rules for each operation is very important and needs plenty of practice. Before teaching addition and subtraction of integers to students, it is necessary to clear every common misinterpretation that students have about integers. First, explain to them about the set of integers that consist of the whole numbers, their opposites, and zero. 

Addition of Integers

The addition is usually the most simple and interesting arithmetic operation to learn. Using a number line in learning the addition of integers can help in gaining the skill with ease. By using the number’s sign as an indicator of the direction on the number line: students can learn to count to the right for positive numbers and left for the negative numbers. For example, for adding -5 and -6, on the number line, we can move six spaces to the left of -5, which is -11.

Rules for Integer Addition 

Memorizing the rules for adding integers helps in performing the operation with ease. Here are some rules to follow while adding integers:

  • While adding positive integers, add absolute values and put a plus sign before the answer. 
  • While adding negative numbers, add absolute values and put a minus sign before the answer. 
  • While adding integers with the different signs, find the difference; label the sum with the sign of the number with the greater absolute value.

Subtraction of Integers

For easily solving the subtraction of integers, learn to convert the subtraction problem into an addition problem. For converting the subtraction into addition, change the signs to opposite except for the first number. Exchange the minus sign to a plus sign and the sign of the second number to its opposite. For example, when subtracting (-10) – (+7), transform this problem into (-10) + (-7) to solve it quickly using a number line.

Rules for Integer Subtraction

By changing the minus sign to a plus sign and the sign of the second number to the opposite, subtraction of integers can be performed easily. After changing the subtraction problem into an addition problem, follow the rules for adding integers to perform subtraction of integers.


Mastering the skill of integer addition and subtraction is vital for a child’s math success. It is crucial to reinforce the learning of these concepts through practice and application. Cuemath offers interactive worksheets and activities for kids to learn integers. To find some amazing learning resources visit