Facility in math


          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).


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