3 June 2013 11:00 AM

Math Skills Your Kids Should Have

by rbavaria

We’re coming up against the end of another school year.  When the school year started, we talked about setting goals with your kids and reviewing them regularly.  Changing them when necessary.  Making them more challenging when appropriate.  And keeping our eyes on the goal.


So, how’d you do?


Our kids’ goals can run the gamut from the academic (a better algebra grade, more skillful writing, improved reading comprehension) to the social (a role in the school play, more involvement in extracurriculars) to the physical (more pull-ups in gym class, better soccer skills, longer laps in the pool). 


For the next few blogs, let’s concentrate on the academic, specifically the three R’s and a few checklists of what our kids should be aiming for in elementary, middle, and high school.  These checklists – general rules of thumb – can be helpful now as you assess how your kids have done in school so far and whether they need a little help now, in the summer, either to fill in some gaps or to stretch their minds and skills a little.


Let’s start with ‘rithmetic.  Math seems to cause a little anxiety for lots of kids, especially when they’re about to face algebra.  Here are some skills kids should have under their belts by the time they enter middle school. 


1.      Kindergarten.  By the end of Kindergarten, kids can count to 25.  They can count to 20 by two’s.  They understand that when they “add,” the answers get bigger and when they “subtract,” the answers get smaller.  They understand measurement concepts like “longer,” “taller,” “lighter,” and “heavier.”  They have begun to learn telling time.  They know common shapes like squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles.

2.      Grades 1-3.  By the end of grade three, kids can recognize numbers up to five digits.  They start with simple addition and subtraction problems and eventually are able to do increasingly complicated computations.  They understand estimation and use it to determine the reasonableness of their answers.  They see multiplication as repeated addition, and division as the opposite.  They begin to use simple graphs and charts.

3.      Grades 4-5.  By the end of elementary school, kids know how to divide whole numbers.  They understand how to add and subtract fractions, what decimals mean, and begin to feel comfortable with simple geometric measurements.


The Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin has outlined easily readable “benchmarks” for mathematics students Kindergarten through high school .  Other educational organizations have, too.  Use the internet to research and see where your kids’ math skills are.


Of course, use the expertise of the teachers in your children’s school.  Keep communication with them constant and regular, so you’ll not be caught by surprise at report card time.  Talk with other parents to see where their kids’ skills are, what success they’re having at school, and what challenges they face.  Amazing what we can learn from one another.


And, as I’ve mentioned in the Dr. Rick Blog often, when you suspect your kids are having a rough time, get help right away.  There are National Honor Society high schoolers who make excellent study buddies.  Generous and dedicated teachers volunteer their time before and after school to help kids who struggle or who want more challenge.  And the company I work for, Sylvan Learning  has been helping kids with math – especially at algebra time – for over three decades.  The important thing is not to waste time, especially when your children are brave enough to ask for help.


It’s the beginning of summer.  Now’s the perfect time to fill in those gaps to prepare for confidence when the new school year begins.  You’ll still have plenty of time for summer fun.






8/12/2013 9:25:56 AM

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