At First 5 California, one of our core focuses is ensuring parents and caregivers of young children are aware of the importance of talking, reading, and singing. Engaging with a young child in these ways helps to build critical neural connections in the brain and puts them on a path for lifelong success.
Counting is another activity that will help them become even more ready for school and life. Studies have shown that early exposure to simple math skills helps children develop familiarity and comfort with math, increases their confidence, sets the foundation for more advanced concepts, and helps with learning other subjects.
Many children learn how to recite numbers, but they also benefit from counting, which involves more cognitive activity and an understanding that each item is assigned a particular number or value, and the last item counted represents the total quantity.
Counting can be incorporated in many ways when you interact with your child, and there are a variety of fun activities to try:
Talking: When out with your kids in the car, have them help you keep track of the number of white, black, or red cars you see.
Reading: When reading a picture book, count some of the items in the pictures, whether they’re animals, people, houses, or other interesting objects.
Singing: Make up a fun song that incorporates counting of toys or household items, or even body parts, like fingers, toes, eyes, and ears.
Eating: Have your child count vegetables, fruit slices, or pieces of cereal.
Playing: When you are playing with building blocks, cars, or dolls, incorporate counting. For example, if there are three cars, and you take one, your child can see that there are two cars left.
Once you start, you’ll find it’s easy to make counting part of your child’s everyday activities. It will all add up to making them even more prepared for success in school and life.
For more information on activities you can do visit first5california.com.
Diane Levin is First 5 California’s chief deputy director and oversees the agency’s Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign.