How do modern primary-school math curricula like Everyday Math, Bridges, TERC, etc. approach the "problem" of providing enough challenge to young students who are very comfortable with math and who learn math concepts very quickly relative to peers?

I'm asking because my 2nd-grader (in California) tells me that her Bridges math class is "too easy" and from what I've seen I admittedly agree with her. The class is working on concepts she "gets" already like basic multiplication. She wants more challenge.

How do primary school teachers using these new curricula deal with this problem? How do they keep the fast learners engaged given the new curricula's emphasis on group learning and avoiding "tracking" fast learners in separate "gifted" groups (like was common when I was in primary school long ago) ? If you're an elementary teacher, how do you challenge a kid who's already working 1+ years ahead of grade level and who feels like the class is moving too slowly?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't think your question really has anything to do with which curriculum is being used. It is about groupwork and tracking, and how to accommodate an advanced students within that framework. Jo Boaler writes (in What's Math Got to do with it?) about the benefits for even the best students of group work in math. You might find that book interesting. You daughter might enjoy a math circle, outside of school. $\endgroup$
    – Sue VanHattum
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I'll take a look. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ It's really a classic issue of tracking versus enrichment. My POV is that enrichment is a bit of an excuse and that smart kids do better with tracking and acceleration. 2nd grade may be a little early but at some point, separation into a different curriculum makes sense. Until then, you should supplement with your own things. $\endgroup$
    – guest
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


Sometimes, people interpret a student's facility with calculation as understanding all the concepts that the curriculum is designed to address. That's not necessarily the case.

Barbara Bissell wrote about an experience working with a whole class of gifted students.

In the Horse Problem, a man buys a horse for \$60. Then sells it for \$70. Later he buys it back for \$80 and sells it again for \$90. The question to the students is "How much money does the man make or lose?" We spent the full hour working on the problem, arguing about it and finally acting it out.

Now, what was so hard about that problem? Clearly, the arithmetic is easy. It must have been the reasoning that stumped these kids.

So, it is not easy to know whether the curriculum truly is easy. (It makes sense to read the whole piece this is excerpted from, for a more complete picture.)

My recommendation is to talk to the teacher. And when you do, instead of characterizing the curriculum as too easy, ask the teacher what the goals are in her classroom and how to help your daughter get the most out of the class in terms of the goals.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.