“COVID-19 has increased my respect for teachers many times over. The pandemic has forced me to become a substitute teacher of sorts and I’m amazed at the work they do to prepare my child for the future.”

I have heard this, and similar comments, a lot over the last four months.

After a long wait of 15 years, Ontario has updated its math curriculum. The new curriculum aims to better prepare students for work in a rapidly changing world, strengthen competence and improve grades.

The new curriculum for Grades 1-8 will put a focus on fundamental math concepts and skills including computer programming, enhancing problem solving and mental math. It also aims to build an understanding of the value and use of money through mandatory financial literacy concepts such as creating a budget. Starting in Grade 1, students will learn to code to improve problem solving and develop fluency with technology.

The goal is to get young children to develop a greater awareness as consumers and contributors in the local and broader economic system. I am grateful for this more practical approach to a subject we use every day, but often find our academic knowledge of it too obtuse for our daily lives. This update will ensure that we have a truly 21st century education available to the young generation.

I am also glad to see the support offered to educators to effectively implement the new curriculum. This includes providing classroom-ready resources for each grade, as well as in-depth virtual training for teachers, principals and board staff. Educators will also continue to benefit from $40 million in new investments in professional development and math supports at both the board and school levels.

Overall, I can’t wait to see our little ones helping parents count money on grocery runs or helping grandparents learn how to use a computer. Stephen Hawking once said, “Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the universe, or you just want to pursue a career in the 21st century, basic computer programming is an essential skill to learn.” By focusing on coding and other essential skills, this new curriculum will definitely serve our young learners better in the coming decades.