Number Sense is Fun!

Oct 11, 2022 | Papillion

The other day a mom was here to drop off her son but he was in the car crying. It was his 3rd session and he felt so anxious about math he begged not to come in. Eventually he did though and ended up completing several pages and feeling good about himself and his progress. His mom even shared he was excited to come next time.

My heart went out to him when his mom explained his anxiety level. He’s working on strengthening his knowledge of multiplication and division facts which can be stressful for young learners. Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics education provides some reasons for that.

According to Boaler “Unfortunately, many classrooms focus on math facts in unproductive ways, giving students the impression that math facts are the essence of mathematics, and, even worse that the fast recall of math facts is what it means to be a strong mathematics student.”

This often leads students to believe that memorization and rapid recall of number facts are crucial for long-term success in mathematics and that is not the case at all. Long-term success comes from the ability to think deeply about math and to use and understand numbers flexibly. This ability is called number sense, and it grows from interacting with numbers in different ways and contexts, breaking them down and combining them in a variety of ways.

One way to help build number sense is to play games with numbers. Games give learners the opportunity to use numbers in new ways and different situations. Those mental gymnastics strengthen their skills and can create pleasant associations that help kids want to learn. As their number sense develops, their need to rely on memorization diminishes. If they happen to forget a division fact it’s no big deal because they know how to figure it out.

Want to incorporate fun, number sense – building math games into your family time? Here are some great resources to get you started! Grab a pair of dice or a deck of cards and have FUN!