Alberta Education defines numeracy as the ability, confidence and willingness to engage with quantitative and spatial information to make informed decisions in all aspects of daily living. A numerate individual has the confidence and awareness to know when and how to apply quantitative and spatial understandings at home, at school, at work or in the community.
Quantitative information refers to information that can be measured and expressed as an amount. This includes:
- having a sense of the magnitude of numbers
- using numbers in real-life situations
- estimating amounts
- interpreting statistical information
- recognizing patterns
- determining probability
Spatial information refers to the physical location of objects or people, or the relationship between objects or people. This includes:
- understanding shape and space
- measuring time, weight, height or amounts
- determining location and direction
- interpreting and creating maps and schematic diagram
- visualizing shapes from different perspectives
Every day we are presented with quantitative or spatial information that needs to be interpreted and used in order to help us make sense of our world. As we go through life, our need for numeracy skills evolves.
- Young children develop numeracy as they judge the distance needed to grasp a toy, recognize patterns and routines or learn how to manipulate shapes to complete a puzzle.
- Older children use numeracy to play board games, estimate the cost of a purchase with tax, judge how far to kick a ball or determine when to leave to arrive on time.
- Young adults require numeracy to interpret sports statistics, navigate their way to a destination, track cellular data usage, or budget to save up for a special purchase.
- Adults need numeracy to compare costs, choose a cellphone plan, interpret statistics, park a vehicle, double the ingredients for a recipe or engage in home renovation projects.