As a teacher, I am constantly communicating what we are doing in my classroom to my parents. I do this in emails, letters home, at conferences, or in the newsletter. One content area my parents always struggle to understand is the concept of number sense. That’s why I have found a way to explain number sense to parents in a way that makes them see the importance.
What is Number Sense?
Number Sense is a student’s ability to make connections between numbers quickly. What does this mean? It means students can visualize and talk about what they know about numbers. They can also take numbers apart and put them back together. This means they can make several different equations that would add up to five for example. They do mental math and they can relate numbers to real-life problems in the world.
What Does Number Sense Do for Students?
When you explain number sense to parents, it’s important to explain what a strong sense of numbers can do for students. One of the biggest benefits is that it builds confidence and encourages flexible thinking. In addition, it gives students the vocabulary to talk about numbers and their relationships to each other.
Promoting Number Sense in Elementary
It’s great to explain number sense to parents, but you have to be able to promote it in your students within your classroom. Once you do this, your parents can use similar techniques at home to help increase their child’s number sense at home as well. However, before any of this can happen, you have to explain number sense to parents.
Estimate for Fun!
There are some things we do on a daily basis. At school it could be walking from your classroom to the library or the lunchroom. At home, it can be walking from their bedroom to the bathroom or from the living room to their bedroom for bedtime. When you do any of these things, you can practice and explain number sense with students by estimating how many steps it will take to get from point A to point B.
Make Numbers a Model
Models always hit the runway in something different. Numbers are just like models! They show up in all different ways. Modeling numbers in different ways is a great way to create number sense. Pointing out numbers in the real word helps kids create meaning. For example, you can look at numbers in a deck of cards or on a dice or dominoes without counting the dots. A deck of cards is a great way to teach math not only for modeling, but to work on mental math as well! I have great activities that are perfect for a deck of cards that you can find here!
Visualize Ways to See Number Sense
A great way to use up five minutes while you’re waiting in line or before you go to the next activity in class is to visualize numbers. You can create number sense by asking the question, “When you see 10, what do you see?” Students might say they see two dice with five dots on them. They might also see a 10-frame or their 10 fingers. This helps create meaning and starts the process of mental math.
Think About Math with an Open Mind
One way to promote number sense with mental math is to be more open ended when asking questions in class. Instead of asking, “What is 6+4?” You can ask, “What are some ways to make 10?” This allows students to have flexible thinking and it builds confidence with knowing more than one answer. In addition, this will make mental math all that much easier! You can also make it more challenging by asking students to use three numbers to make 10.
Mental Math to the Rescue
We live in a world where all you need to do is pull out your calculator and do the math. However, sometimes mental math is the better way to go. Encourage your students to use mental math. So, if you know that 6+6=12, then you know that 6+7=13 and so on. Pointing out that your student can use his/her double fact (6+6) to help find a harder fact can help build confidence.
Using these simple techniques, you and your parents can work with students to become amazing mathematicians! However, as I said before, this all starts with parents knowing what this all means! Make sure you take the time to explain number sense to parents so your parents can be helpful in their student’s learning.
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