In the elementary school where I work, we are recognizing that our students are lacking basic number sense. “Number sense" is to math what "reading comprehension" is to reading. It is not only orally counting and understanding that numbers have names used to identify quantities, but it is also the ability to match a number name with an item in a set. Playing games with dice, such as Yahtzee, Dominoes, and Shut the Box provide rich opportunities for children to learn number sense outside the classroom. Families today just aren’t sitting down at night playing board games like they used to. Instead, children are playing video games alone in their bedrooms. That said, if parents would play board games with their children regularly, it would reinforce their number sense in a fun and stress-free environment outside the classroom. Other board games that reinforce math skills are Connect Four, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, Monopoly, puzzles, card games, etc.
Parents should know that students leaving first grade without solid number sense skills are essentially set up for lifelong struggles with math. Sometimes their teachers may not be spending enough time teaching the standards necessary to embed their number sense, or sometimes it may be that the concept is too abstract for children to comprehend at their developmental level. Therefore, families should take the time for “Family Game Night” with their children when they are young. This is an easy way to give them a solid foundation with number sense, and a lifelong understanding of basic math skills (not to mention the positive family relationships that are building in the process)!