Learning to Count

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When children are learning to count, they like to touch, point to and move objects as they say the number aloud – so encourage them to!

  • Have your child count toys, kitchen utensils, items of clothing as they come out of the dryer, collections (such as stickers, buttons or rocks) and any other items your child shows interest in counting.
  • Mix it up! Have your child count a set of objects but start at different places in the set (for example, start counting in the middle of the set rather than at the beginning). This helps to develop the idea that the counting of objects can begin with any object in a set and the total will still be the same.
  • Sing counting songs and use counting in meaningful ways in games, such as Hide-and-Seek. Counting games, rhymes and songs exist in every culture. Some counting songs and rhymes help children to count forward and backward as well.
  • Have your child skip count (counting by twos, fives or tens) to count larger groups of items quickly. Use such objects as blocks, pasta pieces, toothpicks or buttons.
  • Develop your child’s awareness of the symbols used to represent numbers by making it a game. Look for number symbols in your home and neighbourhood: on the television remote, on the microwave, on the telephone keypad, in flyers and media, on signs and on team sweaters.
  • Play a number version of I Spy. For example, “I spy something that has the number five on it,” or “I spy something in this room that there are three of.”
  • Ask for your child’s help to count items in your home. “I wonder how many chairs we have around the table? In this room? In the house?” Count windows, light switches, lamps or beds. You might record “how many” by using a combination of numbers and pictures.