Ontario Math Curriculum - Coding Starting in Grade 1

Ontario's new grade 1 to 8 math curriculum will be introduced to Ontario school children when they go back to school in September (2020). There has been debate over the viability of the curriculum, as well as the timing of its introduction. Replacing an existing curriculum that is 15 years old during a pandemic, is bound to spark a lively debate. I will not be weighing in on the debate in this post. Instead, I have written a factual overview of the curriculum with a focus on the computer coding, data and socio-emotional learning components - the three elements that align with my passion.

I am not an expert in curriculum development for school children but I do believe we need to evolve what and how we teach our children. It is important that curricula evolve along with our society and economy. We are experiencing a shift from our knowledge driven economy (built around the knowledge worker) to an economy that emphasizes innovation and digital business models. This shift puts less emphasis on what you know and more emphasis on what you can do with what you know. We may feel such economic shifts are far removed from kids in grade 1 to 8 but learning patterns taught in the earlier years set a foundation for future learning and influence the approaches children later draw on to think, innovate and make sense of the world around them.

Computational logic, emotional intelligence and technological intelligence are core skills of the new economy (see blog post: The Core Skills to Thrive in the Innovation Economy). The teaching of coding provides both a valuable skill, as well as builds computational logic and resilience within children. Socio-emotional learning builds critical thinking skills, as well as teaches children to make connections between knowledge and their environment. This connection is key to building both emotional and technological intelligence. The ability to find, consume, evaluate and use data provides the information to fuel creation from knowledge. Only time will tell if Ontario's new math curriculum will be successful.

The government's curriculum overview does not actually identify coding as one of the seven major “knowledge and skill” areas. Coding is integrated as an element of Algebra. However, Socio-emotional Learning and Data are included in the list of seven knowledge and skill areas. I have shared the government's definition of Algebra, Socio-emotional Learning and Data below. You can review the definitions of the remaining four (Number, Spatial sense, Financial literacy) by clicking here: New math curriculum for Grades 1-8.


Students learn about patterns and algebraic expressions. Students analyze real-life situations using coding and apply the process of mathematical modelling. For example, in Grade 1, students could plan and track class donations to a food bank and by Grade 8, students could develop a strategy to reduce waste at school.

Students will:

  • be introduced to mathematical modelling and learn how math can be used to better understand and make predictions about real life

  • develop algebraic reasoning skills throughout the grades, as students work with patterns, relationships and expressions


Students learn how to collect, organize, display and analyze data to make convincing arguments, informed decisions and predictions.

Students will:

  • learn to be critical consumers of data and how to determine when data is being misrepresented

  • develop skills to create infographics to tell a story using data

  • make connections between the use of data and understanding the chance that something might happen, for example, weather forecasts

Social-emotional learning skills and mathematical processes

Social-emotional learning skills help students develop confidence, cope with challenges and think critically. This learning reflects current research and the government’s commitment to student well-being and skill-building to help students see themselves as capable and confident math learners.

Students will:

  • develop social-emotional learning skills and use math processes (for example, problem solving and communicating) across the math curriculum. Students will learn to:make connections between math and everyday life, at home and in the community

  • recognize mistakes and learn from them

  • use strategies to be resourceful in working through challenging problems

Here is how coding, data and social-emotional learning skills are integrated throughout the grade 1 to grade 8 math curriculum. Kids Hack Labs does include a number of themes noted below in our curriculums, beyond the code including: understanding data in context of an interest, creative & critical thinking, developing healthy relationship skills and breaking down tasks as a means to manage complex challenges.

Source & details: New math curriculum for Grades 1-8

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