Using Calculators with the Common Core Standards
Calculators are useful tools, but when should you let your child use one? Many parents consider that question as their children encounter difficult math concepts. The Common Core Standards don’t provide specific guidance about when a calculator should be used, so consider the following criteria when making decisions about calculator usage.
Understanding the concept is important. Although students can solve problems quickly and efficiently with a calculator, they also need to devote attention to understanding important concepts. If your child rushes to use a calculator instead of thinking critically about the concept she is using, it’s possible that she’ll wind up with the right answer but without a clear understanding of how and why it worked out that way.
Students need to be able to mentally compute numbers. When solving math problems, students encounter many situations where being able to mentally compute numbers without a calculator is much more efficient. You don’t want your child to become so calculator-dependent that he feels the need to use one every time he has to complete simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Furthermore, the standards call for students to be able to complete operations fluently in some grades with no mention of calculator usage.
School and/or testing policies may limit calculator usage. Some schools limit when and how students can use calculators. It’s also possible that your child won’t be able to use a calculator on tests that assess the standards. For more information on these types of policies, contact your child’s teacher or school administrators.