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Mathematics Milestones

Math comprehension is more than just numbers. Math is also about sorting things into categories such as big, bigger, and biggest; solving problems using patterns; solving spatial problems; and using logic. Skills such as these are very important beyond the classroom.

Math skills depend on a number of skills: visuospatial abilities, working memory, and language, especially. Impairments in any of these areas can affect math development. Spatial abilities are important for geometry, reading graphs, grids, and setting up math calculations appropriately. Working memory is important for learning automatic number facts, as well as learning multi-step procedures. Poorly developed language skills will also affect the child’s ability to understand word problems.  

If your child is suspected of having a math problem, seek help immediately. Often, there are fewer resources available in schools for children with math disabilities. As a result, the gaps in knowledge get bigger and bigger and soon the child cannot grasp more advanced concepts because the foundations are missing. 

Academic expectations

In general, math skills are divided into five different areas or strands:

  • number sense and numeration
  • measurement
  • geometry and spatial sense
  • patterning and algebra
  • data management and probability

Within each of these areas, your child will be expected to reach a level of competence by a certain grade in the Canadian elementary school system.


By the end of kindergarten (age 5 to 6), the student is expected to be able to do the following.

Number sense

  • Sort and classify objects into sets according to specific attributes
  • Match objects using one-to-one correspondence
  • estimate and count to identify sets with more, fewer, or the same number
  • Count to 30
  • Identify objects in different positions such as first, second, third
  • Recognize and write the numbers one to 10
  • Demonstrate an awareness of addition and subtraction


  • Use simple measurement terms such as tall/short; big/small; and empty/full
  • Order two or more objects according to size or mass
  • Use simple measuring devices appropriately, such as a tape measure or ruler
  • Identify the values of some coins

Spatial sense and geometry

  • Use language to describe spatial relationships such as in/out; and above/below
  • Identify and sort three-dimensional objects
  • Identify and sort two-dimensional shapes


  • Identify and reproduce simple patterns
  • Create and extend patterns using a variety of materials or actions

Data management

  • Place specific types of objects on graphs and pictographs
  • Compare information on objects using two categories, such as rough/smooth and big/small  
  • Use simple grids correctly
  • Use the language and words of probability such as chance, might, and lucky

Grade 1

By the end of Grade 1 (age 6 to 7), the student should be able to do the following.

Number sense and numeration

  • Read and print numbers from zero to 100
  • Read and print number words from zero to 10
  • Count by ones, twos, fives, and 10s to 100
  • Count backwards from 10
  • Compare, order, and represent numbers to 50 using concrete materials
  • Demonstrate addition and subtraction facts to 20 using counters
  • Add single-digit numbers mentally


  • Use math language to describe dimensions such as height and length
  • Estimate, measure, and record linear measurements of objects
  • Compare and order objects by linear dimensions
  • Put a sequence of events in order orally and with pictures
  • Read analog clocks; tell time to the hour and half-hour
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the value of some coins such as a penny, nickel, and dime, and name coins up to $2

Geometry and spatial sense

  • Compare and sort three-dimensional figures according to observable attributes such as size and shape
  • Explore and identify two-dimensional shapes
  • Describe and name two-dimensional shapes such as circle, square, rectangle, and triangle
  • Follow verbal directions to move or position an object in relation to another object
  • Describe an object in relation to another using positional language words such as “over,” “under,” “to the left”

Patterning and algebra

  • Describe, draw, and make models of patterns using actions, objects, diagrams, and words
  • Recognize similarities and differences in a variety of attributes
  • Use one attribute to create a pattern such as “these are big” and “these are small”
  • Given a rule, extend the pattern

Data management and probability

  • Collect first-hand data by counting objects and conducting simple surveys
  • Relate objects to a number on a graph with one-to-one correspondence
  • Record data on charts or grids
  • Demonstrate an understanding that an event may or may not occur
  • Use math language words such as “never” and “sometimes” to describe the probability of something happening​