Primary Math

Primary math, also referred to as elementary math or early math, is a category of mathematics that covers topics that are typically learned in early education. The topics learned in primary math, including tools, concepts, etc., provide a foundation for learning mathematics. They include topics such as numbers, counting, arithmetic, measurement, basic data visualization and analysis, and more.

Below are some of the key topics in primary math. Visit their respective sections for more detailed information.

Numbers and counting

Numbers can be thought of as the building blocks of mathematics. There are many different classifications and categories of numbers, and understanding some of the key ones is an important aspect of learning many mathematical concepts.

The concept of numbers is commonly learned as part of counting, one of the first things we need to learn in mathematics. There are many different ways to approach teaching or learning to count, and it can vary throughout the world. Counting objects, such as in the figure below, is one of many ways to approach teaching/learning counting.

In practice, physical objects can be used and moved to count up by 1. Counting is the basis of addition, which in turn builds up to other arithmetic operations like subtraction, multiplication, and division.


Basic arithmetic involves mostly the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Exponentiation and roots are also part of arithmetic, but are generally learned later than the other arithmetic topics. Arithmetic is used to varying degrees within all areas of mathematics.

Rules and properties

There are many rules and properties of numbers or other mathematical objects that a person needs to learn to be able to effectively tackle mathematical topics such as algebra, which is used throughout all areas of mathematics. The commutative property, distributive property, and order of operations (PEMDAS or BODMAS), are just a few examples.


Measurement is the quantification of some property of an object or event that allows for comparison between other objects or events. It is a way pivotal part of many areas of mathematics, science, technology, and more. It is also helpful for simply interacting with other people and the world around us. Everyday examples of measurements include height, weight, temperature, and distance.

There are many different systems of measurement. The International System of Units (SI) is the most widely used system of measurement. Others include the US customary and imperial systems of measurement. While many countries around the world have their own local units of measurement, it is important for standardized systems such as SI to exist globally so that countries can effectively communicate. It is therefore important to learn or recognize various systems of measurement and to be able to convert measurements between systems.

Data and graphs

Data are units of information often acquired through observation and/or measurement. Graphs are tools used to depict data in ways that are efficient and easier for people to interpret. Below is a line graph, one of many different types of graphs. It depicts the average height of boys and girls in centimeters from ages 0-20.

We could've written the average age for each year, or put it in a table, and it would've conveyed the same data. However, putting it in a line graph gives us a clear visual representation of the data that quickly gives us an idea of various relationships between the heights of boys and girls as they relate to age. Without the use of graphs, certain data, even if meaningful, would be very difficult to interpret.