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I was completely clueless about certain developmental timelines when my oldest was a baby.
I figured that as long as our parent educator and his pediatrician were happy, he was probably developmentally fine.
It wasn’t until he was three that I learned he was not on track with his peers.
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When Should a Child Be Able to Count to 10?
Most children can count to 10 by the time they are four years of age. Some reach this threshold as early as age two. If your child has not begun counting to 10 and they’re age four or older, start focusing on counting and number recognition.
Work with them on it every day, and you will probably see improvement soon. I have some more helpful tips below.
What is Normal?
Developmental timelines vary so greatly that it can be difficult, even impossible, to quantify normal.
When professionals speak of developmental milestones, they do so with the reminder that children grow at different rates due to various factors.
For instance, a child who hasn’t been exposed to numbers will not have the same ability to count as someone who has two parents who are mathematicians.
My oldest child’s development was all over the charts.
He first crawled at three months and took his first step the day after his first birthday. He said his first word at 10 months, used it for about a week, and then didn’t speak again until he was 15 months old.
His parent educator wasn’t concerned with any of this. Neither was his pediatrician.
Unfortunately, our Parents as Teachers program lost funding, so I had no one left to educate me about his cognitive abilities until he started nursery school at age three.
There were children in his nursery school that were not yet able to recognize numbers. Some were counting to 20 or higher.
The teachers at this school, all professionals with advanced degrees, assured us, parents, that all levels of recognition were “normal.” They told us that most kids catch up with each other over time.
With the right amount of intervention, they would be counting at roughly the same level by kindergarten.
How to Teach Kids Numbers
There are a wide number of methods that are used when teaching numbers to young children.
A number puzzle is a great tool because it teaches numbers while also working on colors, shapes and motor skills.
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Number flashcards are fantastic choices as well. You can either but some ready-made flashcards or make your own.
My children are being raised in a multi-lingual household, therefore we opted for flashcards that have both English and Spanish translations.
Of course, there is always the old-fashioned abacus, which is a fun way to teach counting to young children.
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Reading is arguably one of the best activities for learning numbers and counting. My favorite choice is “Ten Apples Up on Top” by Dr. Seuss.
- Works as a teaching tool as well as a funny story
Another good option is to count together over the course of your day.
Go for a walk and count the clouds in the sky. During dinner, count the number of peas on your child’s plate. My son’s favorite thing was to count the cat. We had one cat. She was easy to count.
It’s important not to push too hard.
There can be negative consequences to forcing children to learn too much, too soon. Use these methods of teaching counting but pull back when either you or your child begins to feel frustrated.
When Intervention is Needed
Some children need different kinds of help than others. However, it’s difficult to ascertain that your child needs intervention until they are in school.
Toddlers may exhibit signs of dyscalculia if they cannot recognize the symbols associated with the numbers they are counting or if they count out of order.
If your young child exhibits these signs, don’t worry and don’t push. The most important thing you can do is build up your child’s self-esteem as you continue to work together.
Are you concerned that your child isn’t counting to 10 yet? If your child is under age five, there is no reason to worry.
What are some of the steps you are doing to teach your child to count? Share them with us in the comments!
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