Roadmap to Mathematics: Kindergarten

[Feature photo (above) by MIKI Yoshihito. (CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)]


A frequently-asked question on homeschooling forums is, “Are my children working at grade level? What do they need to know?”

The Council of the Great City Schools has published a handy 6-page pdf summary of kindergarten math concepts, with suggestions for how parents can support their children’s learning:

Whether you are a radical unschooler or passionately devoted to your textbook — or, like me, somewhere in between — you can help your children toward these grade-level goals by encouraging them to view mathematics as mental play. Don’t think of the standards as a “to do” list, but as your guide to an adventure of exploration. The key to learning math is to see it the mathematician’s way, as a game of playing with ideas.

The following are excerpts from the roadmap document, along with links to related posts from the past eight years of playing with math on this blog…

What Your Child Will Learn in Kindergarten Math

In kindergarten, your child will focus primarily on two important areas. The first is learning numbers and what numbers represent. The second is addition and subtraction. Students will also learn to identify and work with shapes.

Activities in these areas include:

  • Understanding addition as putting together and subtraction as taking away from.
  • Adding and subtracting very small numbers quickly and accurately.


Tip: Cut a sheet of plain, white 4×8-foot bathroom paneling in sixths to make individual 24×32-inch white boards. Draw a large 10-frame to organize items for counting. Nine pencils need one more to make a complete set of ten.

Helping Your Child Learn Math

  • Use everyday objects to allow your child to count and group a collection of objects.
  • Have your child create story problems to represent addition and subtraction of small numbers. For example, “Ann had eight balloons. Then she gave three away, so she only had five left.”

Kindergarten Graduation

[Photo by moyerphotos. (CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)]

“The way we taught students in the past simply does not prepare them for the higher demands of college and careers today and in the future. Your school and schools throughout the country are working to improve teaching and learning to ensure that all children will graduate high school with the skills they need to be successful.

“In mathematics, this means three major changes. Teachers will concentrate on teaching a more focused set of major math concepts and skills. This will allow students time to master key math concepts and skills in a more organized way throughout the year and from one grade to the next. It will also call for teachers to use rich and challenging math content and to engage students in solving real-world problems in order to inspire greater interest in mathematics.”

Council of the Great City Schools
Parent Roadmaps to the Common Core Standards- Mathematics

Additional Resources

  • For creative ways to build a love for mathematics, follow Moebius Noodles.

3 thoughts on “Roadmap to Mathematics: Kindergarten

  1. For me, the activities we do at home are mostly about encouraging the right attitudes:
    – growth mindset
    – the value of playful investigation
    – asking questions
    – finding different ways to think about something

    I fully understand the pressure and uncertainty that leads to doubts like “are we up to grade-level?” but I hope we don’t lose sight of what’s really important.

    Also, I just came across the Art of Mathematics series (perhaps you’ve already mentioned it?) Though written with college-age non-math majors in mind, it has a lot of good material for children, even young ones. Maybe not pre-K…?

    1. You are right, Joshua, developing a playful, growth-oriented attitude is hugely important. I wrote about that in my Homeschooling with Math Anxiety series, and it is a key theme in my book, but perhaps I should edit this post to stress it again. Thanks for the reminder!

      The Art of Mathematics resources are wonderful! They are just one of a seeming-gazillion things I haven’t had time to write about on this blog (though I’ve linked to them a few times in my Twitter/Facebook feeds). I have several good-intention folders of things I hope to post about someday, or at least add to my resources page…

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