There are many things that are mile stones, and learning to count is one of those.
I don’t really follow when Daniel and Emma ‘should’ be doing certain things… I’m fairly relaxed about it and they will get there when they get there. Our approach to teaching them is quite a gentle one, preferring for things to be consistent and I suppose ‘taught’ as part of everyday life. I want learning to be fun for them both and as play based as possible, letting them be small people for as long as possible.
There is a book that Daniel and I have read for a long while, on and off. It used to belong to my younger brother and it was, for a long time one of the favourites which came out every day, but then it became less popular. It’s a book which counts ten different animals. I have always read it counting and pointing each animal out to him.
He learnt a lot of animal names, noises and signs from this book and I am sure it has contributed to his numerical knowledge. It is such a simple book, and one that has really lasted well!
As well as this book we also use a jigsaw which has lots of little farm scenes and features the numbers 1-10. Again, we have looked at this and counted and talked about the animals that we can see and what they might be doing (ducks swimming etc).
A week or so ago Daniel and I had a Saturday afternoon to ourselves whilst Emma napped and Damian was out at work. We decided to make an egg box snake. I set him up with the task and started colouring in myself. Daniel asked me to help him glue something, as I was colouring in I said, ‘let me just do ten more, then I will help. Without really thinking, I began to count out loud.
I said ‘one’ and immediately a little voice said ‘two’. I was amazed. I replied that ‘yes, that’s right, one. two.’ He then said ‘three.’ Again, I was amazed! This continued all the way to ten (with a slight wobble at seven).
I was completely astounded. He has never shown any understanding of the sequence of numbers but, sat right next to me, completely unprompted he counted to ten.
Now I have sat and reflected it is obvious that counting appears so frequently, be it in the books we read such as the three bears or three little pigs or the songs we sing such as five little ducks and five monkeys jumping on the bed. I suppose it was inevitable that it would make an impression in Daniel’s mind and store away somewhere to be recalled at a later date.
We are now encouraging counting in even more things that we do together. For example counting out things, counting the number of apples we are buying, the number of eggs in the box etc. He still has a lot to learn yet, but our gentle approach has, so far, worked and I am so proud of my little man.