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5 Counting Skills to Practice With Your Preschooler

Counting skills Learning

Three green apples


Researchers from the University of Chicago and Vanderbilt found that early math skills predicted academic success through eighth grade in ALL disciplines, not just math.

Yet, for most children, even basic counting skills take practice.

Start with the five basic counting skills listed below--they seem intuitive to well-practiced adults, but take repetition to master before kindergarten.

Cardinality: The last number counted is the same as the number of objects.

It helps to reinforce the concept that the last number counted is the same as the number of apples. (E.g. “1...2...3...there are 3 apples!)

Number Constancy: The number of apples is the same even if they are moved or rearranged.

This is a great skill to practice with blocks or toys. Rearrange the items and count them several times.

Subitizing: Summing numbers instantly in your head.

This doesn’t mean dropping a box of toothpicks and counting 246 instantly like Rainman. However, it does mean looking at three apples and knowing that there are three apples--instantly, without having to point to each apple and count.

One-to-one Correspondence: One apple is one apple; you don’t count the same apple more than once.

This might seem simple to an adult, but some children really struggle with it. Young children learn this first by starting at one end, then using their finger to count each object once.

Number Sequencing: Understanding the sequential order of numbers, 5 comes after 4, comes after 3, etc.

This counting skill is probably the most familiar to parents. Everyone knows it’s important to teach your child how to count to ten, then twenty, then thirty, etc.

In today’s science and math focused world, foundational counting skills have never been more important. Help jumpstart foundational counting skills with your toddler by making counting games, pattern recognition, and number “talk” a regular part of your everyday routine, talk and play with your preschooler--even minutes here and there add up!

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