You may hear people use the term number sense when talking about mathematics. Number sense is basically the ability to understand numbers and the relationship between numbers. This is the ability to count accurately - first forwards. Then later, the ability to count backwards. A more complex skill related to number sense is the ability to see relationships between numbers like solving number problems, measuring, sorting, noticing patterns, adding and subtracting numbers.
"Counting was once thought of as a role activity with little importance in children's mathematical development. Now, however, the importance of children's counting to their overall numeracy development is well recognised." Reid, Kate & Andrews, Nicola. (2018). Fostering Understanding of early Numeracy Development. p. 3
Children who cannot count, will find it difficult to solve mathematical problems.
The development of early maths skills in children can help them do better at maths at school. So the frequency with which parents engage in direct (for example, teaching their child to count) and indirect (for example, measuring while cooking) numeracy activities with their child relates positively to preschool children's mathematical achievement.
So, some of the skills and knowledge that are included in number sense are:
- Number Identification - recognising and naming numbers
- One to One Correspondence - understanding that when counting each number relates to one specific thing being counted
- Stable Order - knowing that numbers always come in a set order ( for example, 3 comes before 4)
- Cardinality - knowing that the last number counted is the number of objects
- Magnitude - recognising that higher numbers reflect larger quantities
So, if someone starts talking to you about number sense, then it refers to Numeracy Literacy or Numeracy Skills. This is what it was originally called a few years ago.
Give your children a head start before they begin school by reading counting books and singing numeracy based finger rhymes.
Here is a list of counting books to help with numeracy skills for babies and children.