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  • Beth

    Posted In: Teacher FAQs

    After reading over the standards, I notice that money is only taught in 2nd grade. Why is this? Why are grades K and 1 not teaching the value of coins, and making coin combinations equal to $1.00? Why do no other elementary levels expand on money?

    NMPED Response:

    Working with money is a context that can be used to teach many different mathematical ideas. Working with money is not a mathematical idea in itself, it is an idea that could fit into many different subject areas like social studies, life skills etc. Often the work with money takes away from time that could be spent on other mathematical ideas. The standards are meant to address the mathematics that should be taught at each grade level. Mathematics can be taught through the use of the money context, but working with money doesn't need to be the end goal. The end goal might be something like adding within 100 if you are working with adding cents.

    Reading time and knowing the value of coins are important life skills, which students could learn in many places: in the home, in social studies, in science, in mathematics, in history, or in English language arts. There has been a tendency to overload mathematics standards in particular with these life skills, at the expense of more important work on number and operations. Perhaps this was because mathematics standards came along first, so putting these things there was a way of ensuring they were taught. The view of the Common Core is that, used in the right way, they can be tools for learning about number and operations, but they are not mathematics topics in their own right. If kids come to school with knowledge about them, or if there is a way of weaving them into the curriculum that supports the main focus, then that's fine. But too often they become the main focus themselves. The strongest message of the Common Core is: focus on what's important and give it the time it needs, so that kids have a chance to learn it well and progress onto other things.