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How to Teach Your Preschooler to Count

Updated on September 30, 2012
Creating art with numbers is a great way to practice counting.
Creating art with numbers is a great way to practice counting. | Source

Number Sense in the Early Years

It may seem hard to believe, but the idea of number sense begins before children reach one year of age. Babies can distinguish between two objects. They can begin to develop a preference for one thing over another. These experiences show that exposure to numbers and how they relate to our lives is just as important to being exposed to letters, reading, and letter sounds in the early years. So how can you foster the growth and understanding of number sense with your preschooler? Start with learning how to count.

Teaching Your Child to Count

Teaching your child to count is an important first step in developing a sense that numbers have a connection to the world around us. This should not be an activity that is stressful for you or your child. Rather, you should try to find ways to make this a part of their everyday lives and just getting to know the world around them.

My husband and I knew how important it would be to read to our children every day, but we had never discussed how we would teach them to count. Luckily for us we just naturally fell into teaching our kids how to count. Today our two kids (one in his second year of preschool and the other in kindergarten) have a strong number sense. So how did we do it? By having fun of course!

Counting books are a great learning tool.
Counting books are a great learning tool. | Source

Books About Counting

Reading counting books are a wonderful way to expose your kids to numbers in the world around them. There are many books out there to choose from. If you do not have these books, choose any book that you have in your home. Look at the pictures on the pages and find an object. Ask your child questions like, 'how many balloons do you see?' and then count them together.

Counting Objects in the Home

Your best resource is right at your finger tips, your home and everything in it. We counted everything and everywhere when my kids were just learning to count. My husband would have the kids help him take the pop cans to the garage and they would count them as they dropped them in the container. My mother in law would count each step with them as they went up and down the stairs. I would have them help me count the apples or oranges or ears of corn that we were putting in the bag. Everything became an opportunity to count.

Songs About Counting

Singing songs are a great way for children to learn. Not only is it fun for them, but when you add music to a concept that you want children to learn, it helps them to retain it. Here are the words to a counting song that my kids always enjoy singing.

Ten Little Bubbles

One little, two little, three little bubbles

Four little, five little, six little bubbles

Seven little, eight little, nine little bubbles,

Ten little bubbles go pop, pop, pop.

Popping, popping, pop those bubbles

Popping, popping, pop those bubbles

Popping, popping, pop those bubbles

Ten little bubbles go pop, pop, pop!

As you count the bubbles, you can show your fingers to represent the numbers and then when you start to pop the bubbles, the kids can hit the floor or lap with their hands like they are popping bubbles.

Counting Opportunities for Your Child

There are so many ways that you can make counting fun for both you and your child. The most important idea to remember is to keep your eyes open. Notice things around you and how you can use that as an opportunity to provide a learning experience for your child.


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    • Doc Sonic profile image

      Glen Nunes 5 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

      Until I became I parent, I never realized the young age at which babies begin to grasp certain concepts. I'm seeing it again with my granddaughters now. It's really important for parents to be aware of this and to do the kind of things you suggest. These are really great ideas.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      What a sweet bubbles counting song. Your idea to count items around the home, fun idea.

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 5 years ago from Guildford

      The formative years begin way before children attend school. This is a great hub and very beneficial to parents who wish to ensure their child receives the very best educational start. Voting up most definitely annd pressing the appropriate buttons too.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful -- I love when I read how attentive parents are to the development of their children. This hub gives an excellent example of using every day experiences to enhance the potential of intelligence. While formal education occurs in the classroom, the formative years occur way before they even step foot in a preschool. Thanks for the great article. Voted up/I/U / B and shared.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      With two little kids this article is ry helpful to me. Thank you for sharing and I have pinned to refer back too and also voted up, shared and tweeted too :)