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What is Mathematics?

Math is important because it is the most widely used subject in the world.  Every career uses some sort of math.  Doing math helps the mind to reason and organize complicated situations or problems into clear, simple, and logical steps.  Listed below are various concept areas addressed in elementary math.


Computation:  Computation is finding an answer by using a specific series of steps called algorithms.  Students learn various algorithms to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems.
Basic Facts:  Basic fact knowledge is as important to arithmetic as knowing words by sight is to reading.  The ability to automatically recall basic arithmetic facts is called “fact power”.  Mastery of basic facts remains as essential today as ever.  Traditional “flashcards” have often been used to practice these facts.
Number sense and numeration:  Number sense is much more than merely counting; it involves the ability to think and work with numbers easily and to understand their uses and relationships.  Number sense is about understanding the different uses for numbers (describe quantities and relationships, informational tools).  Number sense is the ability to count accurately and competently, to be able to continue counting—or count on—from a specific number as well as to count backwards, to see relationships between numbers, and to be able to take a specific number apart and put it back together again.  It is about counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.  Counting and becoming familiar with numbers will help your children understand all other aspects of math.
Problem solving:  Problem solving is key in being able to do all other aspects of mathematics. Through problem solving, children learn that there are many different ways to solve a problem. Problem solving involves the ability to explore, think through an issue, and reason logically to solve routine as well as non-routine problems.  In addition to helping with mathematical thinking, this activity builds language and social skills such as working together.
Patterns and relationships:  Patterns are things that repeat; relationships are things that are connected by some kind of reason.  They are important because they help us understand the underlying structure of things; they help us feel confident and capable of knowing what will come next, even when we can't see it yet. Patterns and relationships are found in music, art, and clothing, as well as in other aspects of math such as counting and geometry.  Understanding patterns and relationships means understanding rhythm and repetition as well as ordering from shortest to longest, smallest to largest, sorting, and categorizing.
Geometry and spatial sense:  Geometry is the area of mathematics that involves shape, size, space, position, direction, and movement, and describes and classifies the physical world in which we live. Children can learn about angles, shapes, and solids by looking at the physical world.  Spatial sense gives children an awareness of themselves in relation to the people and objects around them.
Measurement:  Measurement is finding the length, width, area, weight, and capacity of an object using units from the customary and metric systems.  Time refers to clocks, calendars, time lines, and ordinal numbers.  Temperature is measured using the Fahrenheit or Celsius scales.  Measurement is an important way for young children to look for relationships in the real world.  By practicing measurement your child will learn how big or little things are and how to figure that out.
Estimation:  To estimate is to make an educated guess as to the amount or size of something.  To estimate accurately, numbers and size have to have meaning.  When children use estimation, they learn to make appropriate predictions, to obtain reasonable results, and the use of math vocabulary such as "about," "more than," and "less than."
Mt. Olive Board of Education
227 US Highway 206, Suite 10
Flanders, New Jersey 07836
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Phone: 973.691.4000 Fax: 973.691.4022

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