In Lower School, mathematics instruction addresses all five of the major themes recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (Number & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis & Probability). Our pacing guides provide clarity and continuity within and between grades as students gain competence in numeracy and computation, mathematical reasoning, spatial relationships, measurement, and data-driven operations. Flexible grouping, which begins in Kindergarten, allows teachers to adjust instruction in response to student needs. Teachers receive guidance and support for their instruction during regular meetings with the math specialist and through presentations, on-site workshops, and a range of professional development experiences.

As children progress through the elementary grades, new skills are introduced in a systematic manner to build on previous experiences.We recognize that our students arrive in school with a wide variety of mathematical experiences and knowledge. Our program is grounded in a deep appreciation for children’s cognitive development; concepts are presented through concrete, hands-on activities and progress toward more abstract and complex approaches to problem-solving.


A teacher helping students in a kindergarten math class

Familiarity and comfort with numbers are principal goals of mathematics in Kindergarten. Children engage in daily conversations and activities using calendars, mathematical vocabulary (the names of numbers, words for different kinds of measurement, time, and comparisons). They gain proficiency in counting, recognizing patterns and geometric shapes, and grouping items based on attributes. The concept of quantity is a significant focus in Kindergarten, as children begin to understand the processes of addition and subtraction.

First Grade

Two students sitting on the floor of a classroom playing a game

First graders continue to build on the foundational numeracy skills introduced in Kindergarten. Our curriculum includes many opportunities for children to handle materials, manipulate shapes and objects, and observe mathematics in daily activities. They work with increasingly complex patterns, explore numerical sequences, and begin to develop problem-solving strategies and ways to recall basic addition and subtraction facts efficiently. First graders investigate “big numbers” with place values through the hundreds and compute double-digit addition and subtraction problems without regrouping. First graders begin to learn to tell time to the nearest hour and half hour, count collections of coins less than a dollar, and explore two- and three-dimensional shapes.

Second Grade

A group of students working together at a table in a math class


Second graders extend their understanding of place value to numbers into the thousands. They compute with three- and four-digit numbers with and without regrouping and begin to perform mental computations. Lively activities encourage automatic recall and reinforce the fun of math as students achieve comfort and familiarity with common patterns, facts and operations. Students learn about multiplication as repeated addition, and division as repeated subtraction. They learn to tell time to the nearest 15-minute interval and begin to use fractions to name parts of a whole, a set or a line. They investigate geometry through two- and three-dimensional shapes and begin to explore the earliest processes of algebraic thinking and the “grammar” of mathematical symbols.


Third Grade

A group of students working together at a desk in a math class


Third graders expand their mathematical abilities as they explore increasingly abstract processes and expressions including place value, decimals, fractions, division, multiplication, measurement, geometry, probability, data and graphing. Throughout the year, the class is divided into smaller groups for focused investigations in many types of mathematics. Children measure, record and calculate sizes of objects using standard and metric units. They practice recall of basic facts while exploring the relationships of numbers in a variety of contexts. Algebraic skills are expanded and reinforced through problem-solving, logic puzzles and operations involving multiple steps and multi-digit numbers.


Fourth Grade

Two students working together at their desks in a math class


With a foundation in all four basic arithmetic operations, fourth graders apply mathematical reasoning to challenges in a wide range of areas. Students explore, measure and calculate geometric concepts such as perimeter and area. They expand their understanding of multiplication to include factors and multiples. They learn to construct and solve long division and multi-digit multiplication problems, add and subtract decimals, and explain their understanding using mathematical language. They learn the meaning of measures of central tendency and calculate these values with different types of data sets. They graph number pairs using Cartesian coordinates, determine elapsed time and solve word problems using a variety of operations.


Fifth Grade

A teacher helping a student during a math class


In fifth grade, students solidify their understanding of operations with whole numbers. Estimation and critical thinking are employed to determine whether solutions make sense. In their work with values beyond whole numbers, students manipulate decimals and fractions and solve problems with positive and negative integers and bases other than 10. Computational problems often involve multiple types of arithmetic and careful order of operations. In connection with their studies of ancient cultures, fifth graders learn about early number systems and historical uses of math. Geometric explorations include measuring and calculating aspects of two- and three-dimensional figures. Students analyze and graph data to show relationships among numbers. Real-world situations illustrate the relevance of the skills they are learning.


Computer coding is an interactive, hands-on pursuit at Foote. For a third grade STEM project, students design robots using LEGOs and program their movements using click-and-drag Scratch coding.