Fifth grade is a milestone and a pivot point for students. The classroom focus on arithmetic during the elementary grades will develop into a more formal study of algebra in middle school. To be ready for algebra, students must have an understanding of fractional arithmetic, in part because even simple equations cannot be solved without fractions. Because of this, whole-number arithmetic comes mostly to a close in 5th grade, while multiplying and dividing fractions becomes a major focus.

A Sample of What your Child Will Be Working on in Fifth Grade:

Adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators (e.g., 21⁄4 – 11⁄3), and solving word problems of this kind

Multiplying fractions; dividing fractions in simple cases; and solving related word problems (e.g., finding the area of a rectangle with fractional side lengths; determining how many 1⁄3-cup servings are in 2 cups of raisins; determining the size of a share if 9 people share a 50-pound sack of rice equally or if 3 people share 1⁄2 pound of chocolate equally)

Generalizing the place-value system to include decimals, and calculating with decimals to the hundredths place (two places after the decimal)

Multiplying whole numbers quickly and accurately, for example 1,638 × 753, and dividing whole numbers in simple cases, such as dividing 6,971 by 63

Understanding the concept of volume, and solving word problems that involve volume

Graphing points in the coordinate plane (two dimensions) to solve problems