How many of us practice counting with our children once they start school?

When your children are little a lot of time is spent counting between 1 and 20. Then, once they have grasped this and can then master the next few sets of tens we tend to leave the counting alone and move onto sums and manipulation of numbers.

As a maths teacher I say count, count and count some more. Counting is the basis of the maths we learn and without this skill we can find maths difficult. A lot of children can count chronologically fairly well. But ask them to vary what they are counting and you may find that they have to think a while first. Our aim is to get your children counting confidently with whatever variations we throw at them. This will build their confidence with numbers, make maths a little more fun for them and build the foundations for good mathematics learning.

Here are some starting points for counting:

Can your child count in ones starting on different numbers (count for 20 to 30 numbers from each of these starting points)?

Often a child, particularly when they are just mastering numbers, can give the impression they can count in ones but ask them to count over a 'sticky point' and you may find they struggle a little. The starting points above take you over the more obvious 'sticky points'.
For the majority of children the 'sticky points' are as follows: going past the 10's number, using the 'teens' numbers and going over the 100's number.

For early elementary / primary counters then getting to 200 successfully is a fantastic achievement and you will find you should have a confident counter that can then probably count mostly successfully to 900 or thereabouts.

Once your child is in the later elementary years he / she should be confident counting in the thousands and beyond. I find at this level that once they get beyond 1000 very little counting practice is done. If your child can count beyond 1000, can they count beyond 5000, 10000, 15000, 50000, 100000, 140000? Obviously this can't be done starting at 1 but choose some different starting points and play some counting games (using some of the activities listed in the Activities post).

Alongside counting in ones it is really good to practice counting in 2's, 3's, 4's .........etc. It continues to build your childs mathematical agility and can also be lots of fun. When doing these the obvious place to start is from zero and keep it simple but once these have been mastered and your child is growing in confidence with manipulating numbers mentally then try going beyond 100, try a different starting point or try backwards.

A word of advice. If you are doing this at home and it's a new sequence or one that your child is not so good at write the sequence down for them to read as they do an activity on it. Better for them to recite it correctly and fix the correct pattern in their brain than for them to recite it incorrectly and teach their brain the wrong sequence.

I'm keeping this one short after Monday's mammoth article but will expand on some of the points here in following articles.

But for now keep counting and having fun.

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