Why is trusting the count important?
Counting is something that we do every day, whether it’s counting the number of steps we take or counting the number of items in our lunchbox. But did you know that counting is also essential in other areas of our lives, like in elections or scientific experiments? Trusting the count is crucial in these situations, and it’s something that kids should understand too.
Trusting the Count
What does trusting the count mean? It is believing the number of things being counted is accurate. This is important because if we don’t trust the count, it can lead to problems.
When our children are young we share many picture story books with them. Often we have a habit of asking how many ducks do you see? We get an answer and then proceed to count them even if we know they are correct. If the answer is correct, we should acknowledge the answer and keep reading. By stopping to count when they are correct we are insinuating that they may not be correct. Therefore, not trusting the count.
In primary school, counting is an important part of the learning process. From counting objects to solving basic math problems, students rely on counting to develop their understanding of numbers and mathematical concepts.
The concept of trusting the count is important to introduce to young children, especially when it comes to counting small collections of objects. Learning to count and trust the count is a vital foundational skill for further mathematical development.
Many students who are able to recite the number naming sequence to 20 by counting orally; recognise, read, and write number words and numerals to 10; and count and model small collections (less than 20), will guess when asked ‘how many’ ly.
This could be due to:
- a failure to understand that counting is a strategy to determine ‘how many’ and/or that the last number counted says how many;
- a mismatch between the oral words and the objects counted (eg, matches objects to syllables, omits certain number names);
- a failure to organise the count to avoid counting objects already counted; and/or
- a superficial understanding of numbers 0 to 10 (ie, limited to simple counts and recognising, reading and writing number names and numerals).
Understanding what is a number
Students need a deep understanding of the numbers up to 10 and how they represent and how they might be viewed in relation to other numbers.
They need to have developed flexible mental objects for each of the numbers that go beyond the recognition of number names and numerals to include part-part-whole knowledge based on visual imagery.
This supports trusting the count in the sense that when students read, write or hear ‘five’, they can imagine what that collection might look like and how it relates to other numbers.
For example, they can see a five in their mind’s eye as 1 more than 4, 1 less than 6, 2 and 3, or 4 and 1.
This is not about addition or subtraction. It is about deeply understanding what each number means
Reinforcing the skill of Trusting the Count
When young children are first learning to count, they often use their fingers or other visual aids to keep track of the objects they are counting. It’s important to reinforce the concept of trusting the count by verifying that the child has accurately counted the objects. For example, if a child is counting a collection of five blocks, the teacher or parent can verify by pointing to each block as the child counts to ensure that they have counted all five.
Another way to reinforce the concept of trusting the count is to have children count objects in a group and then re-count them again. This can be done by having children count the objects, then covering them up and asking them to count again. If the count is the same both times, this reinforces the idea that we can trust the count.
Playing games with dice encourages trusting the count. If a child counts every dot they do not know how to subitise yet. This is part of trusting the count. They should not have to count 1, 2 or 3 and by the time they get to school, they should be able to do 4, 5 and 6. Within their first year at school, they should be able to see 10 on ten frames.
It’s important to note that trusting the count doesn’t just apply to physical objects. It’s also important to teach young children to trust the count in other areas such as number recognition and basic math problems.
When children are first learning to recognize numbers and solve basic math problems, they need to be able to trust that their answers are correct.
One way to reinforce the concept of trusting the count in these areas is to have children use manipulatives such as counting blocks or number cards to help them solve problems.
This can help them visualise the problem and understand the concept behind it, making it easier for them to trust the count.
Using counters and visual aids
When working on trusting the count is an essential concept for young children to learn when it comes to counting small collections of objects and other mathematical concepts.
Reinforcing the idea of trusting the count through visual aids, verification, and manipulatives can help children develop confidence in their mathematical abilities.
When children trust the count, they are more likely to engage in the learning process and develop a strong foundation for further mathematical development.
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