Connections 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 9

Connections Standard

            The instructional programs should enable all students to:

  • Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas;
  • Understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole;
  • Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics.

            It is through this standard that children will form a relationship between mathematical ideas that they have learned on their own and those that are formally taught in school. It is particularly important because it is through this standard that they build an understanding that math is useful in their lives.

            When I meet readers of my columns, I frequently get comments from families about the one I wrote just before Halloween a few years ago. It was about estimating pumpkin seeds the pumpkin that the family was carving. In this activity, I suggest that family members contribute their own guesses as to the number of pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin.

            After all the guesses are made, they begin counting the seeds. After a while, though, the counting stops and everyone has an opportunity to change her or his guess. Contributing a new guess several times is an example of the use of this standard, as the family members are able to refer to the number that they have counted and use that information to refine their estimate.

            Parents can help by making themselves aware of the countless opportunities available to use math vocabulary and see things mathematically in family activities: by comparing objects and quantities, by seeing the shapes and patterns in their environments, and, above all, by showing how math is useful in their daily lives.


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