If a young child can count to 10, it is really great and should definitely be applauded. Does that mean that they understand even the earliest of math concepts?
Being able to count in sequence is called rote counting and it is a skill that children should master early on. However, rote counting alone is just the first step. For children that are 4-5 years old, one-to-one correspondence must also be taught and that is where true number sense begins. One-to-one correspondence means that a child can match an object to its corresponding number and understand that numbers determine how many.
Here at Amigos Por Vida, we work hard to make sure our students grasp these early math concepts. We teach them what quantities look like as well as numerals and that we can absolutely match them.
Students often like to eyeball how many there are but it is important that they physically touch each object as they count. I always tell them, “Mathematicians know they can mistakes, so great mathematicians always count and then count again to be sure they are correct. We are working on being great little mathematicians, so we must do the same.”
What makes this learning easier is to make real-life connections for the students. Use scenarios and stories that are relevant to them. Simply writing numbers and equations for them won’t work. They need to see that when Eddie counts 3 pencils, he will point to the numeral 3 because that’s the symbol to represent three. They also need to see that when there are 4 people at their table, the group only needs to bring 4 scissors so that each person gets one.
Having the ability to correctly quantify and place a numeral to that quantity will give the child the strong foundation they need to move on to other concepts and skills such as addition, subtraction, word problems, more or less, data collection and interpreting, and much more!
It’s our job as educators and parents to make sure we are setting up our children for strong futures in their school life ahead.