Since my oldest turned two, I’ve noticed that he has started to really enjoy counting things and grouping them together.
That said, his counting skills aren’t exactly… perfect.
Needless to say, I’ve been on the hunt for quick and easy ways to teach my toddler how to count and make learning his numbers fun.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to look very far.
My good blogging buddy Tasheena, of The Cinnamon Mom, is a kindergarten teacher turned stay-a-home mom with tons of tips and tricks about how to you can make learning fun for your little one.
So if you’re looking for fun, easy ways to teach counting to your toddler, this is the post for you!
Your child will use math and numbers throughout their entire life.
To start laying a strong foundation for all future math concepts, you can begin with the most basic step: teach counting to your toddler.
There are three keys to remember when you teach counting to toddlers.
First, you need to start early.
There’s a discrepancy among educators and child development professionals about when a child should be able to count, but it benefits kids to be introduced to numbers as babies.
If you wait until kindergarten to start practicing counting, your child will be significantly behind.
Don’t hesitate to even count with your newborn. Maybe their first words will be “one, two, three”!
The second key to teach counting is repetition. Doing the same thing over and over… and over and over again.
If you want to improve your toddler’s number awareness, you have to constantly expose them to activities that involve numbers and counting.
And the third key is to make counting relevant to your child.
Number practice does not require a formal lesson plan or fancy materials.
Make counting fun and relatable to your toddler by incorporating it into your daily routine.
Start early, repetition, and relevance.
In case you’re not quite sure where to start, here are 10 easy ways to teach counting to your toddler:
1. 1, 2, 3… GO!
Kick off counting with 1, 2, and 3.
I use this signal in my home when it’s time to start an activity, like running or cleaning up toys.
My 15-month-old will already stand at the edge of the couch and shout “1, 2, 3, GO!” before diving off onto a pile of pillows.
2. Brushing Teeth
Every time I brush my girls’ teeth, we count!
I go up to 100 with my three-year-old and to 20 with the baby (because she only has a few teeth).
This is all about introducing the sequence of numbers and understanding that when you count, the order of the numbers never changes.
Blueberries, raisins, and cereal are some of our favorite foods to count.
As you’re putting food on your toddler’s plate, count each piece aloud.
Counting specific items works on one-to-one correspondence.
This means that they’ll begin to understand that the number you say represents the quantity in front of them.
4. Fingers and Toes
Gives kisses or tickles while you help your toddler learn that they have 10 fingers and 10 toes.
Body awareness and counting practice all in one!
5. Block Tower
Build a tower together and touch each block while you count how many blocks tall it is.
You can even measure how tall or how long different toys are by stacking the blocks next to them.
Don’t forget to knock your tower down when you’re done!
6. Cleaning Up
Count seconds to see how long it takes to clean up toys.
Not only is this a great way to practice sequencing, but it also works on comparing numbers and durations.
Maybe it took 10 seconds one time and only 8 seconds the next.
7. Clapping or Drumming
Clap four times!
Did you know that there’s a correlation between rhythm and reading?
There is evidence showing that kids who can keep a beat become better readers.
Clap together while you count and get a literacy boost at the same time.
Measure distance by counting the number of steps from one place to another.
How many steps does it take to get from the window to the bed?
From the front door to the mailbox?
Staircases are also great for counting.
9. Uno, Dos, Tres
Count in Spanish or any other language that you know!
Some parents fear confusing children by teaching them a second language, but there are numerous cognitive benefits to early exposure to a foreign language.
Speaking in another language reinforces concepts a child is already learning, like counting, and gives their brain an extra boost.
And who doesn’t want to be bilingual?
10. Blast Off!
Count down from 3, 5, or 10.
Learning to count backwards teaches young kids that numbers can be manipulated and forces them to reverse the numbers in their mind.
If you have a nonverbal toddler, that’s okay!
Still practice counting with them so that they are exposed to the vocabulary.
When they’re ready to talk, they’ll already have that information stored in their brain.
Remember that every child develops counting abilities and number awareness at a different pace.
Just because your best friend’s kid counted to 100 when she was 18 months does not mean you need to pressure your child to do the same.
It’s perfectly normal to be a little ahead or a little behind their peers.
Set reasonable expectations and try to make it fun so they stay engaged and eager to keep learning.
Give yourselves plenty of time, teach counting continually throughout your day, and your little one will catch on before you know it!
Do you have any other fun ways you incorporate counting into your toddler’s day?
Let us know in the comments below!
Tasheena is the voice of The Cinnamon Mom, a blog dedicated to helping moms of babies and toddlers find practical parenting solutions.
As a former kindergarten teacher, Tasheena incorporates her passion for early childhood education into her new role as a stay-at-home mom.
She enjoys unaccompanied trips to Target, cooking simple family meals, and sharing honest mommy experiences and wisdom.