Common Core State Standards for Math: How Parents Can Help Kids Prepare

Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and four territories have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS are intended to standardize what children are expected to learn across the nation. Educators hope that students will learn content in greater depth, that the CCSS will be more rigorous than state standards and that this rigor will contribute to student college and career readiness. While educators are in deep debate, children and parents must manage what implementation will mean for them. If your children are attending public schools in a participating state or territory, you can and should assist your children with the transition to the CCSS.

Here are five ways you can help your child prepare for the Common Core State Standards for Math:

  1. Always ask why. One important shift in the CCSS is an emphasis on concepts and explanation. Children will be asked why addition problems are true and how they know 1 + 3 = 4. You can help your child prepare for the common core by discussing what math means in addition to correct answers.
  2. Have mathematical discussions. Think about where math is found in your daily experience. Use your daily experiences as opportunities to talk about math. For example, as you place cookies on a cookie sheet, you might talk about different ways to count the cookies on the sheet.
  3. Practice. Teachers and schools will spend more class time in mathematical discussion and problem-solving. This may mean that there is less time for practice in the classroom. Be sure to stay in close communication with your child’s teacher and provide opportunities to practice classroom skills at home.
  4. Explore word problems. State assessments will have word problems for which there are multiple answers. Children who do well in school will now be those who can identify all possible correct answers rather than a single best answer. Tests may also have items for which there is no answer to “select,” students may be asked to put numbers in order. There will also be room for explanation. When you have mathematical discussions with your child, be sure to talk about the variety of possible answers and how you might come to them.
  5. Have fun. Another important shift is that the CCSS emphasize real-world application. Children will be asked to provide real-world examples. They will also be asked to solve real-world problems. These problems will be easier for students who have experiences that inform their thinking. Children who play sports, play instruments, do art, visit museums, do service activities, and travel will have more examples to refer to as they do their work.

If you would like to read the standards themselves visit: In California, there are resources for parents in addition to the standards. These can be found at:

If your child may benifit from strengthening thier strategies for learning, organizing, and retaining information, our Brain Bootcamp program may be a good fit for your family. You can learn more about this learning enhancement program on our Brain Bootcamp page, or give us a call with questions or to schedule an appointment!

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