For over a decade, declining math scores have raised worries over Ontario’s math curriculum and its effectiveness on children’s math abilities. However, for the first time in 15 years, a much-needed change has been made. The government has just announced its new math curriculum, aimed at improving not only Canadian students’ math skills, but their chances of a brighter future. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children in primary school will work in jobs that haven’t been created yet.
Developed over two years through consultations with parents and math experts alike, the new Ontario math curriculum is set to focus on teaching fundamental math concepts along with life skills, with heavy focus on number facts, algebra, geometry, social-emotional learning (SEL), coding and financial literacy.
In bringing these new standards into the Ontario math curriculum, young minds will gain a more powerful and productive math learning experience, resulting in long-term success in school, workforce and everyday life. Here’s how:
Focus of the new Ontario Math Curriculum
1. Number Facts, Algebra and Geometry
Numbers are the start of math education. Yet, students in Ontario often do not have a strong fundamental understanding of the world of numbers, which hinders their math learning in later years with more complex math topics such as algebra and geometry.
The new Ontario math curriculum will focus more on foundational math concepts to enhance problem solving and mental math. Students are required to learn and memorize multiplication facts of 0 x 0 to 12 x 12, allowing them to efficiently and accurately perform mathematical calculations. Students will also be introduced to different types of numbers (whole numbers, fractions, decimals and integers) at an earlier stage of math education, preparing them for a variety of purposes and real-life applications ( e.g. calculating the discount or change at the time of purchase).
With a deeper understanding of number concepts, the new Ontario math curriculum incorporates heavy emphasis on algebra. Not only will students learn about patterns and algebraic expressions, but they will also analyze real-life situations using coding and apply the process of mathematical modelling. For example, Grade 1 students would plan and track class donations to a food bank, and Grade 8 students would develop a strategy to reduce waste at school. These practices give students opportunities to develop algebraic reasoning skills as they work with patterns, relationships and expressions.
Another higher-level math topic covered by the new Ontario math curriculum is geometry. Students will work with measurement and geometric concepts to develop a better spatial sense. While making connections between the two concepts, students will be able to understand how people and objects move through the environment, explore the world around them, and understand the basic graphic design and planning structures.
2. Social-emotional Learning
Emotional, relationship and behavioural problems interfere with a young child’s development, causing detrimental, long term effects on their wellbeing and learning abilities. In fact, these problems affect around 40% to 60% of high school students, resulting in their disengagement from school over time.
SEL is strength-based, providing a student with a positive outlook on themselves, others and the decisions they make. This motivates them to continually improve themselves as independent thinkers. To put it simply, SEL guides children into learning how to learn.
Successful implementation of SEL helps develop skills that benefit a student’s success in academic, professional and social endeavours, providing a positive impact on themselves and others around them. Studies have shown that SEL increases academic achievement by 13% and decreases school dropout rates by 5% to 12%. Regarding professions, 79% of hiring managers believe that SEL skills are pertinent to a successful career.
Implementing SEL into the new Ontario math curriculum therefore brings focus on supporting a student’s emotional learning needs, helping them thrive academically and mentally.
3. Data Management
Data management is essential for everyday life as well as the future. In fact, studies have shown that children should learn data management at an early age. Learning data in the new Ontario math curriculum helps students become critical consumers of data and determine when data is being misrepresented.
Students will learn to collect, organize, display and analyze data to make convincing arguments, informed decisions and predictions. Students will also create infographics to present a story using data. Through data management, students can create data analysis and understand the chance of something happening (for example, weather forecast).
Managing data stimulates students’ thinking process. Students will understand the cause, process and consequences of an event. Understanding data is becoming increasingly important towards improving everyday life and the future, making skills in data analysis highly sought-after in most, if not all, industries. This is why Math Project swiftly incorporated the new Ontario curriculum requirements and prepared a problem-solving intensive resource for students to practice Data Management for Grades 3 to 5.
Learning how to code gives children an advantage in the workforce later in the future. According to McKinsey, careers in 2030 won’t hold the same standards as today. Demand for jobs by then that require a higher level of cognitive skills including critical thinking and creativity will rise by 19%.
Through learning to code with the new Ontario math curriculum, students will have the opportunity to strengthen not only these essential skills of critical thinking and creativity, but also resilience and problem solving.
Learning to code can be challenging, which is why it builds resilience in children as they learn to bounce back after failure. Once they learn from their mistakes, they strive to do better until they reach the right results. Their creative side also emerges throughout this process, as they experiment and design something on their own volition. Students then become confident in what they create, finding coding to be an exciting, fun and rewarding challenge.
5. Financial Literacy
Did you know that 42% of Canadians claim their stress is majorly caused by money? Close to half of the population are traumatized by their financial experiences. However, introducing financial literacy in the Ontario math curriculum is a gateway to a more secure, healthier and optimal transition to adulthood.
In adulthood, a majority of life milestones involve financial knowledge and money spending: your career choices, your wedding, your first home and having children. Without knowing where to allot your money and how to best save or spend it, your financial situation can take a negative toll on your mental health and standard of living. At least three in four Canadian graduates regret taking on student debt from OSAP, as they wish that they budgeted properly, avoided adding onto their debt through loans or worked more hours while attending school.
Such stress could have been avoided if they were taught financial literacy at a young age. Through learning about financial literacy in the Ontario math curriculum, young minds become aware of their finances as they understand savings, budgeting and conscious spending habits. Having children learn financial literacy through the Ontario math curriculum fosters a healthy perspective on money, making them feel more secure in their financial health and overall happiness.
The 2020 Ontario math curriculum possesses the potential to positively impact the learning outcomes of students, preparing them for the future through math education. Whether or not the school system fully embraces such a curriculum, we are yet to see. Regardless, at Math Project, we have already successfully implemented such learning components for years, especially SEL and financial literacy.
Having a strong math education is a powerful ability, which is why we continue to help children reach their full potential in math excellence. Click here to view our selection of innovative math programs in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville. Feel free to contact us at 1-844-628-4243 to book a free assessment!
Ontario Introduces New Math Curriculum for Elementary Students – news.ontario.ca
Ontario’s new math curriculum to introduce coding, personal finance starting in Grade 1 – cp24.com
Ontario reveals new ‘back to basics’ elementary math curriculum – cbc.ca
Social-Emotional Learning Affects Everyone, Every Day – cfchildren.org
13 Reasons why SEL Instruction is Important in Schools – nearpod.com
8 reasons why every child should learn to code – teachyourkidscode.com
How do Canadians feel about financial stress – retirehappy.ca
Three in Four (77%) Canadian Graduates Under 40 Regret Taking on Student Debt –ipsos.com
Future Of Work: We Can’t All Become Coders – forbes.com
2018 Sesame Street Workshop
New math curriculum for Grades 1-8 – https://www.ontario.ca/page/new-math-curriculum-grades-1-8