ontario curriculum math

Ontario updates math curriculum to include personal finance and coding skills

After more than 10 years of watching standardized math scores decline across the province, Ontario is changing a major part of its elementary school curriculum to better equip kids for the future.

Eat your hearts out, debt-ridden millennials: Kids are finally going to learn basic personal finance skills in school.

The province released its new math curriculum for students in Grades 1 through 8 on Tuesday after two years of consulting with parents, math teachers, education experts and academics on what should be included as part of the first update in 15 years.

The consultants all seemed to agree that computer programming skills would better prepare kids for the workforce than, say, figuring out how many moon pies Eunice can buy for a nickel.

Ditto for such skills as budgeting, investing, credit management, exchanging foreign currency and planning for financial goals.

You can find a solid overview of the curriculum, broken down by Grade, on the provincial government's website, but a release from the Ministry of Health breaks down what the learning modules should help students do on the whole as follows:

  • Build an understanding of the value and use of money through mandatory financial literacy concepts
  • For the first time, teach coding or computer programming skills starting in Grade 1 to improve problem-solving and fluency with technology, to prepare students for jobs of the future
  • Use relevant, current and practical examples so students can connect math to everyday life
  • Put a focus on fundamental math concepts and skills, such as learning and recalling number facts.

The updated curriculum will be implemented this September for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond, according to the province.

"For over a decade, too many students were lacking everyday math, financial literacy, and numeracy skills," said Education Minister Lecce when announcing the new system on Tuesday.

"The new curriculum will help students solve everyday math problems, enshrine financial literacy in the early grades, and better prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow by ensuring every student learns how to code.

Each grade's math curriculum for the year, moving forward, will be organized into five areas "with social-emotional learning skills and mathematical processes being taught and assessed through all areas."

They are:

  • Number: "Students learn about the world of numbers and develop fundamental skills, including understanding basic number facts, such as 5 × 5 = 25 and how to solve mathematical problems in everyday life."
  • Algebra: "Students learn about patterns and algebraic expressions. Students analyze real-life situations using coding and apply the process of mathematical modelling. For example, in Grade 1, students could plan and track class donations to a food bank and by Grade 8, students could develop a strategy to reduce waste at school."
  • Data: "Students learn how to collect, organize, display and analyze data to make convincing arguments, informed decisions and predictions."
  • Spatial sense: "Students learn about measurement and geometry to help them describe and explore the world around them."
  • Financial literacy: "Students will build their skills and knowledge about the value and use of money, how decisions impact personal finances, as well as develop consumer and civic awareness."

"I made a promise to parents that we would fix the broken education system we inherited, get back to basics, and teach our children the math fundamentals they need for lifelong success," said Premier Ford in a news release announcing the changes on Tuesday.

"Today, our government is delivering on that promise with the first-ever math curriculum in Canada for Grades 1-8 that includes the teaching of coding and financial literacy, both critical skills that will help our students prepare for and succeed in the modern world and in the modern workforce."

Lead photo by

Virginia Dept. of Education

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