How to teach your toddler to count

How to teach your toddler to count

Some children learn to to count when they're 1, some take a little longer and count when they're closer to 5. As with all milestones, there's huge variation, but what YOU do can help!

Counting isn't important to toddlers. Neither is the alphabet. If you're desperate for your little one to know letters and numbers then you're going about things all wrong - FUNCTIONAL LANGUAGE is much more important. Functional language is the words your child needs to get their needs met, like asking where mum is or requesting food. Counting is way down the pecking order.

EXPOSURE is the best way to teach your little one to count. That means EXPOSING your little one to counting as often as possible. At first they'll just learn the WORDS. This means that they listen to you count and learn how to say "one two three four....". They won't have any idea what those words mean, it's a bit like learning song lyrics. With time and practice, your little one will slowly learn how to count actual objects. This is called one-to-one matching - and means that if you ask your child for 3 spoons, they can count out 3 spoons. Can you see how that's different from just being able to say "three"?!

How to increase exposure:
1️⃣ Count every time you go up or down stairs together.
2️⃣ Count out items at the shops, e.g. "1,3,3,4 apples!"
3️⃣ Count out toys or tokens as you play.
4️⃣ Count as you cook. E.g. "We need two cups of milk. One, two!".
5️⃣ Count for your baby as they touch things or hold things. E.g. "You have two biscuits! One, two!".
6️⃣ Read stories with your baby that have multiples to count. They really don't need to be books specific to counting, just count similar pictures! E.g. The fruit in 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' or the diamonds in "How To Charm a Llama".

Counting should be fun and NEVER something your little one should be forced to learn or practice. With lots of exposure, they'll start to understand the fun of counting all the things around them.

Are you counting with your baby? It's never too early or late to start! If you like posts like this one, please tag a mum friend so she can benefit too!!

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