In a recent edition of **Teaching Children Mathematics**, authors Kateri Thunder and Alisha N. Demchak make a strong case for a “**Math Diet**” to grow healthy mathematical reasoning in kids. Just as researchers have identified five foundational components of healthy reading reading instruction, the **Math Diet** is meant to provide students a balanced framework for navigating math through elementary school.

Here are the five components of the Math Diet as described by Thunder and Demchak:

- Counting
- Subitizing
- Conceptual understanding
- Strategic Competence
- Procedural fluency

I hear someone mumbling that EVERYONE knows counting is a given, and it’s certainly not esoteric. BUT, there is a lot more to counting than meets the eye. Many kids are able to process the more abstract features of counting (understanding order irrelevance, for instance), while struggling students never seem to get past using their fingers. The key to a healthy Math Diet is to start early and start right.

In my experience, it’s **hard** to “feed” kids this Math Diet once they have acquired a taste for junk food math skills. And as I’ve noted **before**, elementary teachers themselves may not have been exposed to healthy Math Diets. That’s one reason I joined **The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:** my personal Math Diet was sketchy.

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I made it somehow, through geometry, advanced algebra, and trig–and some calculus. I have no idea what New Math is all about. I figured the tip last night for the waiter who served us graciously, I know that the third baseman has to throw 127 feet to first to make an out, and that the test to get into heaven is not how well I served my fellow man/woman on earth but it is to diagram a compound-complex sentence. So math teachers, start studying your sentence structure, for the End of Days Is Near!

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I’m OK with sentence structure, but calculus? Fortunately, that’s not the way I’m getting into heaven!

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I fear the only calculus you’re going to find anywhere near my head is on my teeth.

It is my hope that a conceptual understanding of math is enjoyed by more children, but wonder if it might be more efficient to figure out a way to incorporate math problems into a video game. 🙂

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Hahaha! I think I have calculus on my feet! Many kids would agree that a video game is the perfect way to practice math!

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