Growing Readers is a monthly article offering parents and caregivers information on early childhood development and how to foster young readers and learners.
Just like learning letters allows young children to learn to read later, learning numbers is an integral part of future math and STEM skills. Most children begin to recognize numbers around the age of 4, and even younger ones can begin to learn numbers from a variety of everyday experiences: recognizing numbers on speed limit signs on the road, seeing numbers on addresses, or hearing numbers in songs and rhymes like Ten Bears in the Bed.
Talk about numbers. Practice counting. Show your child one-to-one correspondence, which involves the act of counting each object in a set once and only once with one touch per object.
- Go for a hike and collect pine cones. Count the number you find.
- Use Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes like One Two, Buckle My Shoe and One Potato, Two Potato.
- Choose a new recipe to try, and have your child help measure ingredients.
- Show your child what time it is during the morning, afternoon, evening, and at bedtime. Talk about what routines you have for that time of day.
- Count the books in your child’s room. Count the seeds in an apple. Count the socks in the drawer, and talk about things that come in pairs.
- Have your child draw a picture of the family, and count the number of people in it.
“My favorite counting book is Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons,” says Miss Andrea, Early Literacy Librarian. “The book’s repetition makes it easy to follow, the song is catchy so kids will sing along, and the moral is important: no matter what is lost, there is always something to sing about.
“If you want a numbers book with beautiful illustrations, I love Kim Krans’s 123 Dream. For an added bonus, the item you are counting in the book also begins with the same letter as the number you are counting. For example: one owl, three thistles, eight ears.”