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How do Children...

Learn to Count?

There is more to learning to count than knowing your numbers and being able to say them in order.

Children can learn to say 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 from memory without ever needing to know what these words mean.


Learning to count involves number recognition and understanding the order of numbers (that five is the next number after four) and being able to use counting to identify the number of items (e.g. counting how many legs are on a dog). Some children find maths easy and their brains seem to ‘get’ the patterns and rules of mathematical processes, whereas for many children maths can seem like a foreign language.

Parents can help their child engage with maths by encouraging them to learn to count from an early age and understand basic properties of numbers which will help them feel more confident when they start school.


Fun ways to encourage children to learn to count and engage with numbers.

  • At meal times, ask you child how many carrots, potatoes, etc he or she would like and count them onto the plate together.
  • When walking to places, play a game of guessing how many steps to the next lamp post or other landmark.
  • Count stairs when going up to bed.
  • When playing with bricks or jigsaws, count them back into the box at the end. This not only helps children to count but makes cleaning up easier too!
  • Count parts of things. How many hands, legs, eyes etc do you have. then move on to animals and other objects.
  • Play “i spy” for numbers when out and about. See how many times you can see a particular number written on signs or registration plates.
  • Encourage your child to try writing numbers as part of arts and craft activities. Make door signs or Happy Birthday Cards and include numbers in the designs.
  • Encourage older siblings or friends to get involved and play games such as dominoes, cards or dice that involve numbers.
  • Involving numbers in every day activities will help children see the patterns and rules that mathematics operates within and boost confidence when faced with numeracy topics at school.

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