Six Math Skills Your Child Will Learn in 5th Grade

Six Math Skills Your Child Will Learn in 5th Grade

In fifth grade math, your child will extend understanding of decimals and fractions, as well as exploring numerical expressions, volume, and graphs. That’s a lot to cover! Help your child succeed in fifth grade math by learning more about what he’ll be doing. 

Over the year, your child will: 

1. Solve numerical expressions

Your child has had lots of experience solving problems using the four operations.  Now your child will develop this understanding even further by learning how to use parentheses in numerical expressions and evaluate expressions with them. Your child will learn about order of operations and will solve the parts of expressions in parentheses first. 

Help your child practice his knowledge of order of operations by giving him longer expressions to evaluate, both with and without parentheses. Give your child the same expression but with different placements of parentheses. Talk with your child about how the parentheses affected the expression. 

2. Work with decimals

In fifth grade, students learn to read, write, and compare decimals to thousandths. They also practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals to the hundredths, which can be tricky!

Support your child by talking about different strategies to use. Have your child use drawings or models to try to visualize the decimal problems he’s solving. For example, draw a 10x10 grid and have your child see each square as a hundredth. Use the grid to help visualize decimals when solving problems. 

3. Add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators 

In fourth grade, students learned to compare fractions with unlike numerators or denominators. Now they will extend this understanding by learning how to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators by finding common denominators. 

Give your child real-world addition and subtraction tasks to complete. For example, when cooking you can have your child calculate ⅓ cup of flour + ½ cup of flour. Help your child relate common denominators to their knowledge of multiplication by thinking about common multiples. (Check out our fractions page to brush up on your fractions knowledge!)

4. Multiply and divide fractions

The fraction work doesn’t stop with addition and subtraction! Fifth graders are ready to multiply fractions by whole numbers or fractions. They will also divide unit fractions (fractions where the numerator is 1) by whole numbers and whole numbers by unit fractions. 

These concepts can be tricky, so instead of explaining them to your child, have your child explain them to you. The opportunity to be the teacher can help your child develop stronger understanding, and gives you the chance to see how well it’s all sinking in. 

5. Measure volume

Fourth graders have had practice measuring lengths and weights. But they will be introduced to a new type of measurement this year: volume. Students will learn to measure volumes by counting unit cubes, using cubic cm, cubic in, and cubic ft. They will learn the formula for computing the volume of cubes and rectangular prisms (volume = length x width x height) 

Have your child notice the volume of drinks that your family consumes. Talk about how different size containers, like 2 liter and 1 liter bottles, hold different amounts of liquids. 

6. Graph points on the coordinate plane

In fifth grade, students will learn how a coordinate system has an x-axis and y-axis and how points can be given by their coordinates (x,y). 

Have your child draw a coordinate plane using graphic paper and practice having your child locate certain points. Games like Battleship can also be a great way to practice the idea of coordinates. If you don't have the board game, here's how you can play Battleship using just pen and paper! 


Throughout your child’s fifth grade experience, find opportunities to check in and hear what he is learning. Fifth grade math can get complex, so take it as an opportunity to brush up on your skills too! 

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