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3 - 5yrs Clinic

Growing up

Counting with your child

Being able to count up to ten before starting school might sound like a humble ambition, but it creates a wonderful starting block for understanding mathematics and visual comprehension.

Tips for good counting


•  Keep it simple

Use simple counting in your daily life with your child. ‘How many ducks are there in the park? One, two, three.’ ‘Let’s eat two sausages for lunch today, one two.’ ‘Let’s do up all our buttons, one, two, three, four.’ And so on.

•  Use music

Sing songs with counting in. At bathtime, rhymes like Five Little Ducks will help to familiarise your child with numbers and counting patterns long before she needs to be aware of what a number actually is.

•  Use rhythm

Even songs that do not have numbers in can be good for getting used to rhythm – a handy tool for counting later.

•  Counting digits

Use your fingers for counting to encourage your child to do the same. These will be a valuable first calculate at school in coming years!

•  Picture books

Find picture books that have numbers in. Many lovely storybooks will count down from 10 to 1, for example ‘Ten Little Ladybirds’ or ‘Ten Steps to Bedtime’. Another early favourite is ‘Peepo’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg which isn’t about counting but puts numbers at the heart of its repetitive rhyme, ‘Here’s a little baby, one, two, three…’

•  Stretch them

If your child is feeling more adventurous, try counting up to 20 or even counting up in tens from 10 to 100, but don’t push your child too much beyond this before she starts school.

•  Make it tangible

When your child starts school, if she doesn’t enjoy writing numbers down, get her to create them by making the right amount of balls from play dough, or try writing them in sand or on an outside wall with chalk, instead.

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