Counting: why it’s good for children
Counting is an early numeracy skill.
Counting helps your child learn the words for numbers and the right sequence for numbers – ‘one, two, three, four, five’. For example, your child might learn that ‘five’ is how many fingers there are on one hand, and ‘ten’ is how many fingers there are on both hands. This helps your child understand that ‘ten’ is more than ‘five’.
Basic numeracy skills like counting lay the foundation for more complex numeracy and maths skills.
What you need for counting games and activities with your child
Counting games and activities can happen anytime and anywhere. You don’t need special equipment or books.
How to do counting games and activities with your child
Everyday experiences can be the best way to give young children fun and relaxed ways to get started with counting.
Here are some ideas for counting games and activities with your child when you go to the market or the shops:
- Choose something your child is interested in to count on the way to the shops – for example, cars or dogs. It’s best to choose something you know you’ll see a lot of. This means your child won’t get bored waiting for the next one to appear.
- Ask your child to help you count fruit or vegetables as you put them in your trolley or basket. For example, ‘We need six apples. Can you help me count to six?’
- Count steps as you walk. For example, count how many steps it takes to get from the apples to the bread. You could also ask your child to guess and then see whether they were right.
- Count the people who are lining up in front of you to pay. Count again as each one pays and leaves, so your child can see the number getting smaller.
Adapting counting activities for children of different ages or children with diverse abilities
It’s best to keep numbers small for your younger child. You can help your child associate numbers with words – for example, ‘We need four apples. Can you show me four with your fingers?’
Your older child will enjoy harder challenges. Try counting by twos – for example, ‘We need eight apples. Two, four, six …’.
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.