Number Sense

Number sense is understanding numbers and the relationships between numbers.

In the early years, developing number sense includes recognising, reading and interpreting numbers; sharing, counting on and trusting the count with whole numbers; and understanding such concepts as more, less, least and most.


1 min


Early Years Learning Framework

  • Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  • Children are confident and involved learners
  • Children are effective communicators

Australian Curriculum Mathematics Foundation Year

NSW Mathematics Syllabus

  • Demonstrates an understanding of how whole numbers indicate quantity. (MAE-RWN-01)
  • Reads numerals and represents whole numbers to at least 20. (MAE-RWN-02)

National Numeracy Learning Progressions (LPs)



2 minutes

Children need to develop number skills early in life to support them for future learning. It prepares them for daily life, including general problem solving and critical thinking.

Number skills involves exploring things such as patterns, symbols and relationships between numbers. Teachers refer to this as number and algebra. Using numbers in everyday contexts, counting objects and understanding how the numbers combine and connect to describe the world help children to make meaning of their world.

Use counting into everyday activities to build confidence and prepare your child for daily life.


10 minutes

Some ideas for learning in the everyday:

  • Grow traditional bush tucker foods in your garden and use these ingredients in your cooking with your child.
  • Provide implements to draw in sand or dirt or use sticks.
    Use leaves and gumnuts on the ground to create patterns or practise counting.
  • Use native herbs such as lemon myrtle or wattle seed in playdough.
  • Use the world around you to notice number, shape, measurement and patterns.
      • How far away is that mountain?
      • How long is the river?
      • How many stars are there in the sky?

Books to support numeracy: Going to the footy by Debbie Coombes



30 minutes

Reflect on your knowledge and practice

Consider the EYLF, NSW Syllabus and LPs:

  • Where have these children come from?
  • Where are you taking them?

Think about the learning that happens in your classroom that builds the knowledge and skills for number sense.

What do you expect from the early learner?

What do you want parents to know about number sense?

How is number sense used across the curriculum?

Consider this skill – What are the connections between literacy and numeracy?

This is an opportunity to share what number sense looks like in your classroom.


45 minutes

Engage in a learning conversation with parents
Suggested conversation starters:

  • Is there anything in the video that challenged your thinking about learning?
  • What foundational number sense skills did you see in the video?
  • How are the children:
    • Practising their skills?
    • Testing their ideas?
    • Building their knowledge?
  • What opportunity can you create or do you have at home that develops number sense?