Numbers enhance our thinking. They help us determine what policy to support and why one course of action is better than another. An education in quantitative reasoning enables us understand issues of national and personal importance and evaluate arguments made by the press, the government, and our fellow citizens. So our students must learn to understand and interpret numbers for themselves in order to think for themselves.
Your child’s quantitative literacy is sure to grow in sixth grade. She will begin to use variables to represent numbers as she deepens her understanding of operations, simplifies expressions, and solves equations. Sixth graders are introduced to the concept of proportionality and its relationship to probability and statistics, graphing on a coordinate plane, two- and three-dimensional geometric figures, and problem-solving and application. As students work on scale factors, they may use floorplans of the new Middle School building and calculate the dimensions of their new classrooms. Math becomes a vehicle for larger lessons about learning, too, like “there is more than one way to solve a problem” and “mistakes are opportunities for learning.” Collaborating on challenging problems teaches children how to communicate, to listen, and to be receptive to input from others. Some sixth graders become so excited about math that they join the Math Club, which meets weekly before school and competes in local, regional, and statewide competitions. The solid quantitative skills that take root here add up to an essential part of a well-educated life.