Home Page


Helping your child with Counting


Through regular practice you can help your child tremendously with counting.


If your child is just beginning to count, try to count objects in everyday life such as toys, coins or movements like steps up your stairs or hand claps, even fingers. Ask them to show you or make a particular number for example - can they give you 5 cars or show you 5 fingers? You want to try and get your child to recognise the meaning of the number rather than just a word.


Once you child can do this begin counting to 10 and then 20 both forwards and backwards. Again, try to get your child to recognise a number means a particular quantity rather than just a word by physically counting objects or movements. When your child is counting beyond 10 pay particular attention to the teen numbers 13,14, 15 etc which children often mix up with -ty numbers such as 30, 40, 50. Don’t worry if your child is doing this; it is very common and easily solved. Try to count forwards and backwards within 20 and if they make a mistake with these tricky teen numbers correct them and start again. Once your child is fluent in counting within 20 begin asking them to tell you the number that comes before or after a particular number, can they tell you what is one more or one less. Also, don’t always start at 1 can they count from 5- 11 etc or even backwards.


Step counting is also an important early counting skill which you can help your child with. Begin by counting in steps of 2 (2,4,6,8,10). Again, initially count with your child then encouraging them to do it on their own. To secure this skill get your child to count forwards and backwards in multiples of 2 and can they begin to tell you what the next number would be in the pattern. If you can try and show your child the pattern by either looking at a hundred square which you can find online or writing out the numbers and encouraging your child to see that counting in 2s is missing a number out each time. Another useful thing is to get your child to do is to count a group of objects in 2s so they see that when counting in 2s we move or touch two objects.


After 2s your child could move on to counting in 5s and 10s. Again, encouraging your child to see any patterns with these numbers (multiples of 5 always end in 5 or 0 and multiples of 10 end in 0). Try and count both forwards and backwards and don’t always begin at 5 or 10.


You do not have to spend a long time counting with your child; a little and often is much better and try and vary what you do with them. Remember you want your child to count, not just chant a list of words. Count when you are playing with them or in the car anywhere. A good habit to do is when you hear your child read, hear them count too. And most of all make it fun. This is a simple activity you can do with your child any time, any place which really will help.