Facility
in math is recognized by educators as being key to later success in life. The
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has set ten content standards
for the teaching and learning of mathematics from prekindergarten through
twelfth grade.
The standards in this series refer to
the entire range of grades. Examples, however, are for prekindergarten to second
grade, which includes the grade I teach.
The NCTM publication Principles and
Standards for School Mathematics has complete explanations of these. For
more information, you may visit NCTM at www.nctm.org.
Bullet points are quotations from the
publication. Underneath them are my suggestions for parents.
Math
principles and standards, part 1
Number
and Operations Standard
The instructional programs should
enable all students to:

Understand numbers, ways of
representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

Understand meanings of operations
and how they relate to one another.

Compute fluently and make reasonable
estimates.
Children not only can count, but
understand the counting and relate the words to real objects that they encounter
in groups. They see and understand five cupcakes, three pennies, six spoons,
etc.
They can use and understand both
cardinal numbers (one, two, three...) and ordinal numbers (first, second,
third...).
They can use a variety of objects to
represent numbers.
They understand and can use the most
common fractions (1/4, 1/3, 1/2). This is made most concrete for them when you
are dividing up something and giving equal parts to various numbers of people,
either in the family or in groups of friends.
They understand the meanings of
addition and subtraction of whole numbers, as well as the effects of adding and
subtracting. They can relate to the idea of have two dollars and what will
happen if they get four more dollars or spend part of what they have.
They can understand that situations
using multiplication will require equal groupings of objects
 like counting tires on cars or bicycles  and that situations using
division mean a quantity is shared equally  like cutting up a pizza or a cake.
The main focus is on addition and
subtraction. Kids can use a variety of methods and tools to get their answers,
including real objects in front of them, mental computation, estimating, paper
and pencil, and calculators. In doing this, they have developed a sense of
various number combinations for addition and subtraction, such as the various
ways to combine numbers to get to ten (1 + 9, 2 + 8, 3 + 7, 4 + 6, 5 + 5).
