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 4
The instructional programs should enable all students to:
measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and process of
appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.
It is the adult who helps children considerably in this area by using
vocabulary appropriate to the items being measured. You ask for the longer
stick, you refer to the heavier bag of marbles, the largest of the balls from
Parents can help by providing a variety of tools for measuring and by
recognizing that they not all need to be the standard ruler, tape measure or
yardstick that we would use. See how many pennies can fit in a row the length of
the table. Compare that to the number of dimes or quarters. Why are there more
dimes and fewer quarters?
Compare objects to each other. Who is wearing the larger shoe? Which is
the longer pencil? Which cup holds more sand or water?
Time can also be measured. How long does it take you to get dressed?
Yesterday, it took five minutes. Can you do it in less time today? Letís see.
In learning the number of seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour, hours
in a day, and that sort of information, children will also learn the patterns of
the way the days of the week and months of the year repeat themselves year in
and year out.
It is by using the readily-available non-standard items (blocks, pencils,
beans, whatever you have on hand) that children learn about measuring. They can
also learn the various words used to measure a variety of objects: how liquids
are measured in cups, pints, quarts, gallons, and liters; peopleís height are
measured in feet and inches; distances in miles or kilometers.
At the same time, estimating helps to give children a real sense of the
meaning of numbers, so we guess how many cups of water will fill the pail or how
many blocks it will take to go from one end of the room to another. Once the
child has a sense of this, he uses this knowledge to extrapolate in similar