When students enter seventh grade, teachers will allow them to use calculators on their math homework. This calculator should only be used for harder calculations that make longer problems more efficient. It is not meant to slow our students down by putting in every 4 x 5 or 20 + 17. The relationship with a calculator is very similar to that of our cell phones. We should understand its buttons, the functions of these buttons and how to use the least number of keystrokes to find our solution.
Here at Gold Star Tutoring, we recommend every student buy a TI-84 Plus calculator (Texas Instrument Brand) when they enter seventh grade so they can begin the proper student/calculator relationship. This relationship will grow and strengthen over time. By the time your student gets to college, your student will be able to use it with their eyes closed! Ok, maybe not quite to that extend, but close enough! Muscle memory with keystrokes is an important part of the process, so having the same calculator through all your math classes, gives your student a huge advantage!
Many students have gotten in the habit of using the calculator app on their personal cell phones. This is not a good idea for many reasons. First, this adds a layer of distraction right at their fingertips when they are supposed to be focusing on math homework. Second, teachers do not allow cell phones use during tests, so that calculator is now of no use. Universities and standardized tests centers are no different. The third reason why allowing our students to use their cell phone calculators is a poor habit to allow, is because those calculators can only perform so many functions. When your student gets up to Algebra 2 or higher, they will need a graphing calculator like the TI-84 Plus to be successful. So, if they’re already going to need it by 10th or 11th grade, why not just get them practicing in 7th grade to get a head start!