From an early age we try to teach our children to count. Many will pick up the numbers and in time be able to recite them to their parents which is a great starting point and underpins the ability to count. However, being able to recite the numbers to 5, or 10 or even 20 is not the same as being able to count to 20. Let us explain.
One Number, One Object
When learning to count, children need to be taught to assign one number name to each object that is being counted, ensuring they don’t miss any objects or count the same object more than once. To assist with this, it is helpful to line the objects up and touch each one as they count saying one number name per object. This helps prevent children from counting quicker than they can touch the objects and so helps them count accurately. Our Five Frame and Ten Frame documents are available for free and can help with this.
Children also need to be taught that the numbers need to be said in a particular numerical order. This is where being able to recite the numbers really does help. If a child can not recite the numbers past 5 confidently for example, there is little benefit to be had from asking them to count more than 5 objects. If this is the case, parents should encourage and help their little ones to count aloud to larger numbers without expecting them to count that number of objects immediately.
Putting it Together and Moving On
Once your child can recite the numbers in order and understands that one number name must be assigned to each number they can begin to count properly. All they need to know is the last number they have said is the total number of items in the group. Then they will be ready to begin to move on to larger numbers, or to count things that can’t be touched such as jumps or sounds.