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TIE (Tanzania Institute of Education)
The Importance of Counting for Pupils
When it comes to mathematical skills for young children one of the most important, and most under-valued, is the skill of counting.
There are two types of counting, or two ways we use the word “counting”. There is counting aloud, saying the number words in the right order, and there is counting things. As children get older and more proficient the “things” they are counting can be harder, smaller, different sizes, movable, immovable and even things like “movements” or claps.
First, counting aloud. This is also called “rote” counting. It is the saying of the number words in the right order. This is a really undervalued skill! It underpins so many other parts of mathematics and having this secure is vital.
If you can rote count, then you have the beginnings of addition and subtraction. That is because knowing what order the numbers are in allows you to compare the size of numbers – I say 11 after I say 4 when counting up, so it must be bigger.
What about teaching numbers?
Children love counting and it’s important your child gets used to numbers because these lead on to most other mathematics skills. Children will often count in order before they understand what the numbers mean.
Link numbers with objects to show them what ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’ or ‘five’ means. For instance one nose, one mouth, two ears, two legs and five fingers
Read stories and rhymes (eg Three Blind Mice, Goldilocks and the Three Bears) and sing songs that use numbers
Count as you walk up and down steps, do up buttons, lay the table, filling their lunchbox
Spot numbers on letterboxes
Cook – measure the ingredients, share food evenly
Listen to music – clap, count and sing the rhythm
Shop – count how many cans are in the trolley
Build – use building blocks, measure length and height, match size and shape.
Your child learns by repetition. The repeated counting they do in everyday life, like setting the table or getting dressed, helps them to understand numbers.