Your child has survived the big jump to sixth grade. By now, lockers and backpacks may even feel like old hat. So how tough could a little math class be?
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics says this is when kids “arrive at conclusions about their competence in mathematics…These conceptions will influence how they approach the study of mathematics in later years, which in turn will affect their later career and personal opportunities.”
For specific expectations, check academic standards which are available on the website for your state's department of education.
As a general rule, however, you can look forward to the following themes:
Mathematical Reasoning: Virtually all states include a standard for understanding math, not just doing rote problems. In seventh grade, this becomes especially important because in many states, eighth graders are now doing Algebra I. Encourage math reasoning by asking questions: How did you get that answer? How else do people approach it? How does it applyto real life?
Number Sense: In fifth and sixth grade, teachers worked hard to reinforce your child’s understanding of the number line and of key “operations” such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. By now, your child should also be comfortable with fractions, decimals, percents, basic graphing, and negative numbers. If these basics are solid enough, your child will be ready for exciting extensions such as square roots, irrational numbers, absolute value, and exponents. Encourage as many real-life applications as you can—trips to the store, for example, include tax calculations and sale prices which can give your young scholar an extra math adventure.
Geometry and Measurement: By the end of seventh grade, your child will be fully conversant in a wide variety of units of measurement. They should be able to compute perimeter, area, and volume of a variety of geometric shapes. The Pythagorean theorem, which links algebra and geometry, will also rear its head in seventh grade. Want to make all this real? Encourage some crafts at home, such as woodworking or quilting, and have your child take a shot at calculating all the measurements. It will help build mathematical reasoning, as well as a sturdy napkin holder.
Statistics, Data, and Probability: As students build graphing skills, this is a prime time for them to practice seventh grade data and statistics skills. You can have fun with this. Make a homework chart and plot time spent on homework against points earned on assignments, or plot minutes not watching TV against hours spent exercising!
By the end of seventh grade, look for a student with a fluid, confident grasp of basic math concepts. If your child seems consistently stymied, be sure to talk with your school. In succeeding years, math will be more and more complicated; if there are gaps in fundamentals, this is the time to fill them.Most important of all, applaud your child for a spirit of investigation, curiosity, and careful thought. Through all the challenges ahead these qualities will endure, and with proper support they can last a lifetime.