# Teach Your Child to Count

Does this look like a lot of spacecrafts to you? This is just a small part of my son’s collection. Sure does come in handy when it’s time to learn counting.

I am an anxious mom. There, I’ve said it! I fret a whole lot about my child, including whether he is learning everything he is supposed to learn. Sometimes (ok, frequently), I worry unnecessarily and prematurely. One such worry is was over the whole counting to 10 skill.

We do a lot of math, but the only counting we do is when a) we count actual objects or b) we play hide-and-seek. In both cases, we hardly ever go all the way to 10. And honestly, I really dislike anything that has to do with rot learning, including counting and alphabet songs. So we don’t do any of that. Yet ability to count to 10 is one of skills identified on the kindergarten readiness checklist.

I know I’m not the only parent out there with this problem. In fact, in one of the Moebius Noodles courses we had a parent ask this exact question:

How can I get my child to remember numbers without just forcing him to count over and over?

To begin with, singing the number song does very little for mathematical understanding of numbers. Mathematically interesting things happen when you work with quantities and lengths. For example, one of the games we played in the course was to find objects that represent quantities, i.e. 18-wheeler truck!

But the biggest thing that will help to understand past ten is actually the notion of the UNIT. This is something best explored with visual, hands-on ideas. Incorporating math into something children love doing makes teaching them counting easy and even effortless.

My son is totally into space exploration. Fortunately, many rockets and space probes we read about are numbered sequentially (think Apollo missions or Mariner space probes). So he lines up all his make-believe rockets or just cardboard boxes, numbering them sequentially, as he readies them for launch.

A related question that was also asked in the Moebius Noodles course is

How old should the child be to understand counting, to make sense of it?

How old was your child when you first introduced counting (and not just number songs)? What were some (if any) difficulties you encountered? Please share your experience.

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1. T. says:

Our 5 year old learned number sense early (3?). I attribute her ease to a wonderful book upon which I stumbled for my kindle. In fact, had I seen the hardcopy of the book, I would have passed it up on the basis of the title alone — Marshmallow Math. Being from an engineering background, I quickly realized that I had no way of relating the basics of mathematics to my small child. Enter Marshmallow Math which was, incidentally, written by a lawyer!? No kidding. This book is brilliant at breaking down the elements of mathematical sense and how they form in the young mind. This book steps you, the parent or caregiver, through game by game of how to foster a sense of FUN and LEARNING with math using everyday resources around you. This book also introduced me to the glorious wonderfulness of the Hundred Number Board, a tool which I had regrettably never encountered and which has already solidified many basics (patterns and relationships) of the decimal system for our 5 year old.

http://www.amazon.com/Marshmallow-Early-Young-Children-ebook/dp/B000PY4CRI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1331040227&sr=8-2

2. T. says:

T.:

This book also introduced me to the glorious wonderfulness of the Hundred Number Board, a tool which I had regrettably never encountered and which has already solidified many basics (patterns and relationships) of the decimal system for our 5 year old.

I meant to say it solidified the basics of our base 10 number system.

3. Malke says:

I never did anything extraordinary, really. Just everyday opportunities to count objects. I did notice that my kid (now 6 3/4) didn’t get one-to-one correspondence until about half-way through K. After a summer (as an early 6) of measuring and comparing sizes, all initiated by her, things finally took off. It’s like the idea of ‘amount’ was fixed in her brain. We’ve not looked back since, lol! This is all to say that I worry about these things, too, but sometimes a kid’s brain is not ready until…well, until it’s ready! ;-)

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