What is number sense? Number sense is the ability to understand, relate and connect numbers.
When you have good number sense you can:
- Visualise and talk comfortably about numbers – In maths, we teach number bonds to get children familiar with numbers and the relationships between them. For example, we can explore all the different ways to make 6 such as 0+6, 6+0, 5+1, 1+5, 2+4, 4+2, 3+3, etc.
- Compute mentally – This is being able to work out the answer to problems in your head without using a pen and paper or any other physical aid.
How can you help your child develop good number sense?
- Practise estimation – Always be looking for ways to count what is around you with your child, like guessing how many steps it will take to reach the front door or how many minutes it will take to get dressed.
- Introduce numbers in different contexts – This helps your child to connect with numbers. For example, have them look at how numbers are represented by shapes on a deck of cards or by the dot patterns on dice.
- Visualise ways to see numbers – Get your child to visualise numbers they see as something else. For example, the may see the number 8 as a snowman or the number 2 as a snake.
- Keep an open mind – Don’t box your child into one way of seeing or thinking about things. Instead of posing an equation and asking for the exact answer, reverse it by asking how many different ways they can come up with the same answer.
- Build on existing knowledge – Encourage your child to use mental maths to calculate new sums using already known information. For example, if they know 5+5=10, then explain that 5+6 means just adding 1 to the answer, so 11 instead of 10.
Why is having a strong number sense important for your child?
Good number sense builds a foundation for mathematical understanding that will help your child solve more complex problems in the future. It also builds a love for maths in your child as they will see it as fun and more like a game than study.