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# Counting

By Admin, on 29 March 2021

###### Image credits: Luis Arias on Unsplash

Learning to count is a fundamental part of children’s mathematical development and 5 key skills need to be mastered- these are known as the counting principles:

1. Stable order principle: Your child understands that the number sequence always remains the same, “one, two, three”.
2. One-to-one correspondence: Your child is able to match one distinct counting word to one (and only one) of the items within the set of objects being counted.
3. Cardinality: Your child understands that the last number said when counting a set of objects represents the total number of objects. Your child can demonstrate this by giving you the correct number of items when asked to give a specific number of items.
4. Abstractions: Your child understands that sets of any nature can be counted, including a mixture of items that differ in shape, size, and colour, or even sounds.
5. Order irrelevance: Your child understands that no matter which order you count the items, (e.g., left to right or right to left), the sequence and total number remains the same.

You may notice when your child is first learning to count, they will say the number words in a fixed counting list: ‘one, two, three, four’. Initially, those number words hold little to no meaning for children.

For example, if you were to ask your child ‘what number comes after four?’ They would typically recite the counting words, like a nursey rhyme they know by heart, ‘one, two, three, four, FIVE!’ As children get older and more experienced with counting, they gradually develop the understanding that 5 comes after 4, and no longer need to recite the entire counting list.

Learning to count help to establish a mental number line. This is also an important foundation for understanding quantity and the ability to manipulate number when carrying out sums when they are older, such as addition and subtraction.

Want to know more?

“What Children Know and Need to Learn about Counting” by Prof. Herbert Ginsburg (Columbia University)