The importance of counting has grown immensely over the years. Counting is not just seen in kindergarten and first grade anymore. You can walk into a sixth grade classroom today and hear and see students counting in many different capacities. When parents ask me what they can do at home to help their children become stronger in math, my answer is always "count!"
Counting develops a strong number sense which is imperative for our children today. When I work with students, I learn more about their understanding by having them count aloud than by having them complete a problem using a pencil and paper. Children today need to see and understand numbers in many different ways. Counting with your children starting at 3 and 4 years old will help them develop a strong number sense at a very young age. Below are some great strategies for counting with your children. They can be done in the car, waiting in an office, or at the dinner table. Turning this into a game will make it extremely fun for your family, and your children will not even realize you are practicing their math facts!
Sequential Counting – Adding On: Adding in sequence is the best way to start your child's understanding of numbers. The parent starts by saying 3 numbers, then the child says the next 3 numbers in order:
Parent: 6, 7, 8 Child: 9, 10, 11
Parent: 22, 23, 24 Child: 25, 26, 27
Parent: 145, 146, 147 Child: 148, 149, 150
Sequential Counting – Taking Away: Pick a starting number. The parent begins at the starting number and says 3 numbers before the starting number. Then the child says the next 3 numbers, taking away every time. You can go all the way to 0 or do small groups of numbers:
Parent: 11, 10, 9 Child: 8, 7, 6
Parent: 45, 44, 43 Child: 42, 41, 40
Parent: 162, 161, 160 Child: 159, 158, 157
Skip Counting (Choral Counting in Patterns): Decide a number to skip-count by and follow the pattern aloud. The parent and child can take turns alternating every time or one can say 3 numbers then switch, or go around to other family members. Your child is practicing his or her multiplication facts without even knowing it!
Skip count by 4:
Parent: 4, 8, 12 Child: 16, 20, 24 Parent: 28, 32, 36 Child: 40, 44, 48
Skip count by 6:
Parent: 6 Child: 12 Parent: 18 Child: 24 Parent: 30 Child: 36
Skip Counting (Choral Counting by 10s): Pick a starting number and count aloud by 10s. The parent and child can take turns alternating every time. Or, one can say 3 then switch, or go around to other family members. Continue into the hundreds and thousands for a challenge!
Starting number 8:
Parent: 8, 18, 28 Child: 38, 48, 58 Parent: 68, 78, 88 Child: 98, 108, 118
Starting number 173:
Parent: 173 Child: 183 Parent: 193 Child: 203 Parent: 213 Child: 223
Try these counting strategies with your kids, and share your experiences on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page!