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Make Them Count: Teaching Your Toddler Numbers, Counting, and More

My recent articles have focused on the basic learning we introduce toddlers to. Having talked about fun ways to teach your toddler to identify shapes by making your own shape book in a variety of fun ways opened up a whole discussion area for me.

That led me to talk about making it fun to teach your toddlers to identify colors and all the jazz. This week, I will be talking about numbers. Math is fun when we are young; it is later when it becomes scary. So, help your kids make friends with it while it is still innocent.

Child prepare for school

While learning to recite the numbers is easy because children memorize quicker, it is difficult to actually put the numbers to practical use. Honestly, we all have memorized a whole bunch of stuff without actually understanding what it means. What you have to focus on here is teaching them how to count and how much each number stands for.

You will have to bolster their number recognition skills. Counting one to ten is great, but knowing how much four actually is, is the test. Like the other things we have talked about, including it in daily tasks is the most natural way for them to pick it up.

Count, count, and count

Here are some examples of how to get them counting and associating the numbers to their values:

  • Dressing up – count the pieces of clothes they have to put on. 3 articles of clothing – 1 underpants, 1 pant, and 1 shirt. Count the buttons on the shirt – 1 button, 2 buttons, 3 buttons, 4 buttons.
  • Eating – If they are having fruits or snacks, something that is countable, then tell them to count it. Make statements or ask them questions, like:
    • “You can have only 4 biscuits.” 
    • “How many apple slices do you want?”
    • “Can you pass me 2 mangoes?”
  • Playing – When playing, you can use their toys to teach them a wide range of things. Toddlers have active imaginations and are expert sorters. They love putting things together and then separating them based on their idea of category. Use this to help them count. Ask them to count the number of stuffed animals they have, the number of toy cars they own, etc.

Including learning in their daily activities doesn’t overwhelm them and give them a chance to gain practical knowledge. They also feel motivated to learn more when they can see that what they know has a practical use. Teach them to count with their fingers, to begin with. You can start by counting on your fingers so that they can copy.

Final Thoughts

Toddlers are smarter than we give them credit for. They are curious and are hungry for knowledge. This is the best time to teach them things that are going to form the foundation of future learning. Teaching them numbers and counting should be easier as math is in everything. Get creative and get counting!