## Seventh Grade Math for Parents

**Overview**

Seventh grade math is some of the most useful throughout life. Calculating discounts, taxes, interest, etc. are something all adults need to do regularly. Now, however, students do more work of recognizing how a percent or proportion comes about and what it means. For example, we can look at a lot of items at a store and ask for each what would be better: a $20 discount or a 20% discount? Letting students figure out that 20% is best for items over $100, and $20 is best for items under $100 from examples (and reason about why) helps them learn about functions later. In fact, one

*can*“set this up” as a function problem, but reasoning directly, perhaps drawing a picture (like the “tape diagrams” borrowed from Singapore) is more intuitive for many.

Learning about negative numbers will also have an emphasis on both context (money owed, temperatures below zero, blocks to the left and right of some landmark) and how previous arithmetic must apply to it. For example, they’ll justify why a negative times a negative must be a positive using area calculations of rectangles with negative numbers (e.g. one side is 10 + -3 =7 feet long).

As data is a key part of understanding our world now this will be a focus. Students will look at two quantities or two populations, and try to understand not only how they are related but how certain they can be about the relationship. Probability at this grade is important in its own right but also reinforces fraction arithmetic.

**General parent tips for supporting 7th grade math**

- Talk through some good “real world” problems, especially if it takes you a while and you’re sharing your thinking. One-on-one discussions about math thinking and reasoning—with a teacher at times, with friends, with you, with a tutor if you have access—is a great experience.

- Your attitude towards learning math is crucial. Students should sense that math is worth their attention, and will require effort more than quick thinking or “innate smarts” to be really good at in the long run. The quick thinkers often have trouble once things get more involved, as real-world problems often do.

- Engaging in activities that use math with them is a great way to reinforce both positive attitude and skills—Doing fraction arithmetic as part of baking or working through financial calculations

From Bevans and Sinha, University of Oregon Department of Mathematics, October 2014