Learning to count: Montessori Inspired counting for toddlers

The first step of learning to count is understanding one to one correspondence. One to one correspondence is the ability to point to one object at a time and assign it one number and one number only. This helps the child truly understand the meaning of a number. Having a child memorize how to count to ten doesn’t help the child understand what those numbers represent. 

As with many montessori lessons this concept is introduced with tangible objects first. This can be rocks, beads, flowers, Legos, etc. Touching, seeing and using their senses can help children grasp new concepts. 

Children learn so much through observation and their day to day, without us really “teaching” them at all. Going on a walk, having a conversation, reading books, building blocks, etc. you are probably counting objects you see. As you count in your day to day with your toddlers make sure to point as you count to help them grasp the one to one correspondence. 

Numbers one through 10 are the foundation of math. Children should master 1-10 (the names, symbols and quantities). When a child grasps the one to one correspondence you can start introducing the symbols. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) You can start with 1-5 if your child gets overwhelmed before moving on to 1-10. 

When a child has mastered 1-10 you can introduce the short bead stair if you wish to. If you continue to teach math using the montessori method this will be an integral part of the progression. 

All children develop differently and so there is no specific age at which these concepts and counting is introduced. Generally the one to one correspondence work can start around 2 this is where your child can point to one object and count with you. Typically children don’t truly understand what numbers represent until the age of 3-4. It is important to note that all children will progress at a different pace. 

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Published by Christelle

Former Montessori School Teacher and Child Life Specialist. Specialize in early childhood education.

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