Are Some Students Just Naturally “Good” At Math?

If you’ve ever been in the position of trying to help your kids with their math homework and feeling completely lost, take heart—you are not alone! Many parents struggle to make sense of even basic equations and seek out math help services for their children. 

Meanwhile, some parents seem to possess an inherent understanding of mathematics that far surpasses what we learned in our pre-algebra classes, making us wonder: Are some people just “naturally good” at math? 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the factors behind why students (and some parents) excel, or don’t, in this critical subject area. So if you’re looking for tips on how to encourage your children’s mathematical learning, read on!

Are You Born With It?

Let’s start out by first saying that everyone can be good at math. However, research from Johns Hopkins University shows that some people may be born with a good inherent of number sense. Researchers have found that preschoolers with good number sense also do better on tests predicting mathematical ability. 

Study researcher Melissa Libertus of Johns Hopkins University said in a statement:

“The relationship between ‘number sense’ and math ability is important and intriguing because we believe that ‘number sense’ is universal, whereas math ability has been thought to be highly dependent on culture and language and takes many years to learn.”

For the study, researchers tested number sense, mathematical ability and verbal ability of 200 4-year-olds. To test their number sense, the children were to look at a computer screen that flashed an image of blue and yellow dots grouped together. The images flashed so quickly that they did not have a chance to count them. The children were then asked to determine if there were more blue or yellow dots. 

All children in the study were also given standardized verbal ability and mathematical tests. This required them to do things like count, read numbers, and compare number values. 

It was found that the children who did the best on the number sense test also scored high on the math ability test. 

Just Give Up?

So, what if you were not born with good number sense? Should you just give up? Of course not! Many educators believe that anyone can be good at math – and now there is a study to prove it!

This new study recently published analyzed 52 adult participants to find out whether honing their number sense could help sharpen their higher math skills. All participants were first required to perform multidigit arithmetic problems. Half the group spent 10 sessions estimating large quantities of dots and performing mental calculations on them. The control group got no practice. All participants were then required to complete arithmetic problems again. 

It was found that the math skills of the participants in the dots exercise group improved significantly compared to those in the control group. 

This study, along with numerous others, demonstrates that number sense and symbolic math ability are intimately linked, so by improving one, you can improve the other. 

Researchers suggest that games which hone number sense for children could have a big effect on math learning. By reinforcing number sense, one of the roots of mathematics, children can be better prepared to learn more complex math operations as they grow. 

What Is Number Sense?

So, now you know why it is essential for your child to have a strong understanding of number sense, but do you really know what number sense is? If you are unsure about number sense, don’t worry. Most parents are unsure as to what exactly we mean when we mention this pillar of math. This is why we encourage parents/guardians to join in and learn alongside their children! By building your understanding of the fundamentals of math and how it is taught, you can help your child learn. 

When we talk about number sense, we mean that effortless knack to roughly estimate and compare quantities without counting. Having good number sense means you can walk into a room and quickly recognize approximately how many people are there.

Having number sense is primarily understood as understanding the quantity represented by a number. Primary students start out by exploring the quantities of numbers less than 10 and later learn how to relate quantities to more significant numbers such as 10 and 100. By the end of a student’s primary grades, they should understand quantities associated with two and three-digit whole numbers. During their junior grades, students can develop a sense of multidigit whole numbers, fractions, decimal numbers, and percentages.  

How To Practice Number Sense

As mentioned above, researchers believe one of the best ways to practice number sense for children is through game-based learning. At Dropkick Math Academy, we are an online math tutor that works with parents/guardians and children to fill in any gaps in learning. All of our programs are game-based and offer fun and engaging ways to help children practice and fully understand the four pillars of math (number sense, operational sense, algebraic reasoning and proportional reasoning).

We understand how important it is to properly place your child where they will excel. That is why we offer a free assessment so that your child will be placed in a program that will be sure to fit their specific needs and enhance their educational development. This assessment allows us to match them with an appropriate program that best suits their individual strengths. Our program’s goal is to take your child’s learning experience to the next level, giving them the best chance for success!

Get started today with our FREE assessment and help your child with their number sense, so they have the skills needed for future success!

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