Frequently Asked Questions about Math

​Most students learn math facts gradually over a number of years as they build their knowledge and confidence in their own ability to do math. Some children prefer to memorize but many children “benefit from learning these facts by using an increasingly sophisticated series of strategies rather than by jumping directly to memorization” (The mathematical territory between direct modelling and proficiency, Lawson, 2016). These strategies support future learning in mathematics.

For more information, refer to A Parent’s Guide to the Fundamentals of Math.

  • Acc​ess the Resources for Supporting Your Child in Mathematics found on the math page of our board’s website.
  • Encourage your child to view math class as an opportunity to learn rather than a place to perform.
  • Help your child to value mistakes as part of the learning.  
  • Help your child to see the world through a mathematical lens by regularly talking about the math that they experience in their daily lives (How many cups do you think will fit?  Does that statistic seem realistic? Estimate the time it will take to complete this task.).
  • Establish regular times for students to do homework and encourage your child to try to understand deeply rather than to focus on just completing tasks.
  • Help your child to use a calendar to keep track of assignments, classroom assessment tasks, and other important dates. Support your child in using the calendar to plan time to complete assignments and to review concepts.
  • Other ideas can be found in this ​parent guide.

  • Talk about mathematics and mathematics learning positively (e.g., avoid statements such as, “I’m not a math person;” see Advice for Parents from Professor Jo Boaler)
  • Encourage your child to view mathematics as an opportunity to learn and value mistakes, rather than a place to perform. If your child states,“I can’t do that,” follow up with “...yet, but you are learning.”
  • Share your experiences with mathematics in your daily life (e.g., finance, cooking, recreation, sports, construction, nature, arts) and explain how it helps you interpret and better appreciate the world around you.
  • Ask your child to think about where they use math outside of the math classroom (e.g., recreation, time management, money management, gaming, estimation, other subject areas).
  • Communicate how being mathematically literate is essential to most occupations and recreational activities.
  • Use mathematics to inspire curiosity and to promote critical and creative thinking skills (see Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching by Dan Finkel.

Consider the following links:

Even if a final answer is correct, the sharing of strategies contributes to a deeper understanding of mathematics. Showing one’s work also allows for feedback on efficiency, format and approach used. It also enhances skills in reasoning, justifying, and proving.

As outlined in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 Mathematics Curriculum, students are expected to demonstrate the seven mathematical processes as part of their learning. The “mathematical process expectations describe the actions of doing mathematics. They support the acquisition and the use of mathematical knowledge and skills.” (TIPS4RM: Mathematical Processes, p. 1)

The mathematical processes that support effective learning in mathematics are as follows:

  • problem solving 
  • reasoning and proving
  • reflecting
  • selecting tools and computational strategies
  • connecting
  • representing
  • communicating

​“The mathematical processes cannot be separated from the knowledge and skills that students acquire throughout the year. Students must problem solve, communicate, reason, reflect, and so on, as they develop the knowledge, the understanding of concepts, and the skills required in all the strands in every grade.” (The Mathematics Curriculum)

  • ​​Students who have questions about math are encouraged to seek help from their teacher.
  • Students in grades 4 to 12 have access to TVO Mathify which offers free one to one online math tutoring from Ontario certified teachers.
  • If you choose to hire a math tutor, it is recommended that you select a tutor whose approach to math is reflected in the Ontario Math Curriculum document.

  • ​Homework can take the form of summarizing the key ideas from the day’s learning, answering questions related to recent topics, reviewing concepts, preparing for upcoming learning or assessment tasks, or other related activities.
  • Homework completion will not be used in the calculation of the student’s mark but may be used to inform learning skills and work habits.
  • Students will not be assigned homework on school holidays and significant faith days.
  • Homework is subject to board policy and procedure 320.0 including the following time guidelines:
​GradeDaily Maximum Across All Subject Areas​
​​Kindergarten​10 minutes
​Grades 1-3​20 minutes​
Grades 4-6​​40 minutes
​Grades 7-9​50 minutes
Grades 10-12​​90 minutes

Your child’s teacher will collect evidence of your child’s learning in relation to curriculum expectations in a number of ways that may include observations, conversations and products. This evidence is used to support decisions about next steps in the learning, to provide feedback to students, or to support the communication of information about achievement to students and families.  Students may also have opportunities to assess their own learning based on given criteria.

For more information in regards to Assessment please see the Assessment Page.

  • The Ontario Curriculum identifies that “problem solving is central to learning mathematics”, so a significant part of the learning involves students engaging in exploring meaningful problems collaboratively. Teachers also provide guided and explicit learning experiences and support skill development though games, puzzles and purposeful practice. 
  • The learning supports the seven mathematical processes as outlined in the Ontario Curriculum: problem solving, reasoning and proving, reflecting, selecting tools and computational strategies, connecting, representing and communicating.
  • The classroom environment and the learning are intentionally designed to raise the achievement and well-being of all students and in particular students who have previously been underserved and who are underperforming.  
  • The learning in math classrooms is designed to support both understanding and a positive disposition to mathematics. ​Students learn about the Fundamentals of Math and also develop a deep understanding of the concepts.  

The learning is based on:

“In order to move beyond competitive and isolating approaches, which have had limited success, students are given opportunities to work, think, and talk together while engaging in powerful mathematics tasks.” (Student Interaction in the Math Classroom: Stealing Ideas or Building Und​​erstanding, 2007, p. 3)

Learning math collaboratively promotes active learning, meaning-making and it supports students to understand mathematics more deeply.  Collaborative learning environments enable students to articulate, refine, and share their ideas and strategies. This allows students to develop an appreciation for different perspectives when solving problems and reflecting on the learning. Students build confidence because they are able to solve problems that they may not have been able to solve on their own.  Finally, a collaborative approach allows students to build relationships and social skills such as listening, reflecting, reasoning, and proving.

A learning environment that values mathematical sense making enables each student to feel valued for who they are, for their ways of engaging in problem solving, and for how their ideas contribute to the success of all the students in the classroom community.

A textbook is one of many resources that support math learning. Your child may or may not have a textbook, for part or all of the school year, depending on other resources provided. These other resources might include teacher-generated resources, digital tools, online resources, videos, images, books, manipulatives, and more.