How my toddler learned to count

Maybe we are a little biased, but our little family, Reymond, Mateo and I find mathematics (or numeracy) easier to teach and learn. It felt intuitive. There was no need to prepare some fun learning activity to introduce Mateo to numbers and counting.

One day, I suddenly realized that Mateo knew how to count. Not exactly sure when, but the thing that surprised me was that I did not teach it to him.

So how did he learn it? By making it a part of his daily routine. The only “counting” I remember doing was during his bath time. When it was time to rinse his hair, I counted to ten to make it easier for both of us (he hates water on his head and I get tired from an irritated toddler). Perhaps I also count during our other activities, but I knew I was consistently doing it only at bath time.

Make counting (and learning in general) a normal part of your daily routine.

At that age (around two perhaps?), I did not care if he only knew counting to ten or even just five. What was important to me was that he knew one-to-one correspondence. Learning the fundamentals made it easier to teach him other concepts later on.

I have to emphasize “one-to-one correspondence.” During bath time when it was time to rinse his hair, I did not just recite the numbers from one to ten. It was “one” – buhos ng tubig, punas sa mukha; “two” – tubig ulit, mukha ulit; “three” – same process: water on hair, clear the water from his face; …until we reached counting to ten.

As with anything kid-related, it is best to follow their cue. Focus on your child and not other people’s children. I did not know how other kids were doing around my son’s age, partly because I have a small circle of friends, and largely because I don’t ask around unless it’s something that worries me. As long as my son is hitting the developmental milestones that matter, I say:

Let the kids be kids and be themselves, no need to compare.

Now take your pick, how would you incorporate counting activities in your routine?

Update: This post was updated on July 21, 2020 to emphasize one-to-one correspondence in counting and to update title and featured image.

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