Measurement Standard


            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.


Math principles and standards, part 4

Measurement Standard

            The instructional programs should enable all students to:

  • Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and process of measurement.

  • Apply 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 the group.

            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 situations.


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