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
Bullet points are quotations from the publication. Underneath them are my
suggestions for parents.
principles and standards, part 2
The instructional programs should enable all students to:
patterns, relations, and functions.
and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols.
mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships.
change in various contexts.
They can use properties such as size, color, and shape to sort, classify,
and order objects. Ask them to tell you, when they are grouping things, why they
They can also recognize patterns that they see, describe what they see,
and extend the patterns. If you count, “One, two, three, four,” they can
continue. As they get older, they can continue when you count, “Two, four,
They can analyze how the pattern was created by saying, “I skip a
number and then I say a number, then I skip one, then I say one, etc.”
Any child who has learned to count to 100 has internalized this because
she has recognized the way the digits 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 repeat
themselves and make a pattern.
At this age, we don’t use terminology associated with high school
algebra, but children do learn that certain of these operations are in place.
For example, they begin to understand that whether they add 2 + 4 or 4 + 2, the
order doesn’t matter: the sum will be the same. In the same way, they
understand that if 3 + 4 = 7, then they can also break down that 7 by saying
that not only is 10 + 7 equal to 17, but 10 + 3 + 4 is also equal to 17.
The most helpful way to do this with most children is to encourage them
to draw or write examples that show the situation being depicted. When five
children each has three cookies, this can be drawn by showing all five children,
each of whom has three cookies in front of her.
Many changes in children’s lives can be described in mathematical
terms: they grow taller, they get heavier, they get older. In the world around
them, the temperature gets colder or warmer as seasons change.