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Develop early number sense in children

By Sunita P May 10, 2012

Developing number sense in children can help them excel in Maths

Why Maths is Important for Children?

How do you respond when your child asks you why he needs to learn maths. Do you have a positive way to explain or is your approach negative?

Just like reading skills, developing early math skills in children is equally important. Maths can help children solve real-life problems.

  • Reasoning and Logic-Maths teaches children reasoning and connecting ideas logically.
  • Maths in everyday life- While shopping we check the weight and size of food packets. This is where we apply maths. We use maths in our kitchen by the amount of ingredients we need to make a recipe.

What is Number Sense?

It is the ability of a person to understand numbers, their operation and also the ability to use this understanding in various flexible ways. Number sense is as important to maths learning as phonemic awareness has been to reading. Young children acquire it by visualizing and exploring the basic counting technique. This gradually helps them understand number size operation and place value.

How can we relate both?

Researchers say that number sense is universal but it may take years to learn maths ability. This takes root at an early age. Some preschoolers may seem to have well-developed understanding of counting techniques acquired through informal interactions with parents or family members.

Researchers have tried to link the two and find out if developing number sense in children can actually improve their maths ability later in life.


  • Such children have the ability to develop their own procedures for numerical operations.
  • Can easily recognize number patterns.
  • Have a good sense of numerical magnitude.

I would like to give you a simple example of how two children of the same age group (one with and the other without developed number sense) figure out biggest number between two given numbers (say 3 and 7)

The child who does not have an advanced number sense knows that 7 is bigger than 3, but the other child knows that 7 is 4 bigger than 3.

This is where both the concepts are used automatically.

Games for Children

  • Number Guessing-Put a few crayons in a box and ask your child to quickly guess the number of crayons.
  • Counting-Ask your child to count the objects on the table or the number of toys in a basket and so on.
  • Sorting-Teach him fractions by giving him a bread, cut it into half and spread jam on one half. Then say one of two pieces that is 1/2 piece has jam

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