http://faculty.fortlewis.edu/goldstein_ ... school.pdf

After a friend told me her children were using calculators in elementary school, I found the above site with pros and cons of this new practice. Well, not too new. Iknew it was happening but hadn't delved into it much. I thought it would be in the later grades. The article is very well written but I have a question or two. If anyone has had children in schools where calculators were allowed, perhaps you can comment.

The one thing that really stopped me was the recommendation that calculators be allowed from K through the entire system. Yet, elsewhere, there was an occasional comment (not stressed very much in my opinion) that students should first know the basic concepts of math - add, subtract, multiply and divide I suppose.

If calculators are to be allowed from kindergarten onward, when were the basics taught? I think I can guess when they should be taught but I want to know what is really happening.

Then, of course, if your children had this experience, how well did it work in developing their concepts of math? Not just the basic add, subtract, multiply and divide but ability to solve problems, ability to do estimations and understand whether right or wrong.

From the perspective of parents, teachers and professionals who need math in their daily work lives, is introducing calculators so early helping?

One actual experience I have had and I'll leave it to you. A teacher in our school asked me to come in and help with a problem. She had a student adding a column of money amounts on the computer. Technically, digit by digit, the sum was correct but the computer program kept calling it wrong. I took one look. The student was doing what all of us do - omitting the decimal points. You and I know to add that when we are finished and are recording the answer. The student did not see the problem. I told him to put in his decimal points. His teacher said "Oh, that isn't necessary". I said "try it". He did and the answer was declared correct.

A concept had been neglected here. That is the kind of thing I am wondering about. With calculators, are the students also getting the deeper concepts? And, as the article seems to say, do calculators actually help them develop advanced math concepts? Goodness knows, something has to help as too many students thoroughly hate math. If calculators are an enlightenment that improves this attitude, I'm all for it.

Thank you for your thoughts.