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How to Teach Your Child to Count

Updated on July 28, 2012
Foam Dice and Counting Bears
Foam Dice and Counting Bears | Source

As parents we all want our children to succeed, but how can we help them along? Your child's education is an obvious and important road to future success. Moreover, studies show that early education is critical to your child's future success, because your child is statistically likely to remain at whatever level he or she enters school at. In other words if your child enters school and is ahead of his or her peers he or she will remain ahead.

To give your child a head start in math an obvious starting place is counting. However, a lot more goes into learning to count than most adults realize. There are three key components to counting that your child will need to learn: number order, one to one correspondence and number recognition. Only five minutes a day one any one of these components and your child will soon be leaps and bounds ahead of his or her peers.

Teaching Your Child Number Order

The order of numbers is one of the easier aspects of counting to teach. This is because the results of your efforts are more immediate and obvious. Your child will begin proudly counting everything in her environment for you.

I will break these ideas down into learning types (visual, audio or kinesthetic), however, a wide variety of approaches is a good idea for a young child and combining methods can often have the greatest impact. For visual learners work on dot-to-dot puzzles. Remember to say the numbers with your child as she works the puzzles. The Kumon workbook My Book of Number Gamesstarts with easier puzzles and slowly progresses to more difficult dot-to-dot puzzles. There are also a number of free puzzles available on the Internet. If your child is an audio learner sing counting songs. My girls liked the song "Four Little Ducks", which unfortunately is not available on YouTube. However, I did include a couple of other fun counting songs is your children do not yet have a favorite. For your kinesthetic learners try playing hopscotch. For boys consider just drawing a progression of circles with ascending numbers. Give him a good distance to jump and have him shout the numbers as he does.

Teaching Number Recognition

Number recognition can actually be taught as your child learns number order. Hold up the numbers as you sing your number songs. Say each number as your child looks for it on a dot-to-dot puzzle. While playing hopscotch games have you child look at, then say, the appropriate number. If your child needs additional assistance with number recognition have her work on color by number puzzles. The Kumon workbook I mentioned previously also contains color by number puzzles.

Teaching One to One Correspondence

One to one correspondence is probably not something that you realized your child needed to learn. However, young children do not recognize that each object directly relates to a single number and vice versa. As they begin to learn number order you might see a young child pointing vaguely over the objects being counted until she gets to the number she believes to be correct, or she might use multiple numbers on a single object, or she might simply keep counting when she runs out of objects. This demonstrates a need to learn one to one correspondence.

Your child needs to learn that when counting each object is represented by a single number and each number corresponds to a single object. A simple way to begin teaching this is to point out each object carefully as you count with your child. Or you could try a simple game that your child might enjoy involving large dice and counting objects. We used counting bears at our house. Have your child roll the die or dice. Then place a counting bear on each dot as you count them up. This provides your child with a visual and kinesthetic representation of one to one correspondence.

This can be one of the more frustrating conponents of counting to teach because you will have to teach this concept over and over with seemingly no results. Don't loose heart. Just continue to introduce your child to the concept and one day it will simply click.

Teaching your child is a very rewarding activity. Invest just a little time each day and your child will soak it up like a sponge. Young children a designed to intake information and you will find yourself surprised at just how quickly your child learns to count.

Good luck and have fun together.


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    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      6 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thank you, Jill. I hope it helps make the teaching (and learning) a little easier.

    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      6 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thanks, Josh.

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      It really makes a difference when you teach your children these things early on. It still amazes me just how much little minds can learn in a small amount of time. You explained this subject well, one to one correspondence was one I didn't really think about to much with my kids but I will now with my youngest!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Fabulous hub Joy! Very informative, with all the links and cute videos!


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