Math Checkups

First Grade

“How many years have you and your friends lived?”

Ask your child to name 2 friends. Now ask, how many years have you all lived in total? Have you hit 20 yet?

What's the skill?

A key first-grade skill is the ability to add 3 digits. Students also need to know they can be added in any order.

Why is it urgent?

Kids will progress to much more challenging math problems, and will need to track and remember multiple moving parts.

“What does the ‘1’ in ‘14’ mean?”

Write a 14 on a slip of paper and ask your child to explain what the 1 is. They can draw dots or put objects on the table if it helps.

What's the skill?

Knowing the value of each digit based on where it sits is “place value.” This is the literacy of reading numbers.

Why is it urgent?

If the 1 meant 10 things, not 1 thing, the number 14 might as well be a 5. Kids need to know place value so they can add, subtract, etc.

“How many summers did you go to camp?”

Pick an activity your child has done annually, like a camp or a soccer class. “If you were 5 years old the first time and 8 the most recent time, how many times did you do it?” The answer is not 8 minus 5!

What's the skill?

This is a “fencepost” problem: Rather than 8-5, you’re actually taking away all summers before 5. It’s 8-4.

Why is it urgent?

Knowing whether to count the endpoints is a key skill in grasping real-life problems as well as word problems.

Wondering what to do next? Talk to your kid’s teacher