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As grown-ups, it's easy to take for granted how easy counting is, but for a young toddler, learning to count is more than just learning a sequence of words as they might a nursery rhyme. Counting involves being able to make a connection between numbers as words and a quantity of items.
This is called 'Cardinal Principle' and an elementary rule states that when you count a number of objects, the number of items in total is the last word spoken as you count them. For example, if there are five apples on a table: 'One' - 'Two' - 'Three' - 'Four' - 'Five'. 'Five' was the last number encountered, therefore there are five apples. This principle seems perfectly obvious to the developed mind, but this is one of the fundamental connections to make when learning to count for the first time.
Toddlers don't need to count items if there are three or fewer - they can look at them and establish how many there are. No counting is required.
New research undertaken at the University of Chicago has discovered that children who are exposed more to the numbers between 3 and 10 as words make the connection between numbers and counting, and understand quantities sooner than children who hear those numbers less in everyday language.
Whilst this might seem an obvious conclusion, it reiterates the importance simply of counting objects over and over with children from an early age, and also of talking about quantities in everyday language.
Exposure to numerical language also helps improve mathematical capabilities later on in life which is much less obvious. So by undertaking counting exercises regularly, not only are you teaching your children to count, but you are also improving their chances of doing well at maths later, which in turn might have a direct influence on their career path way ahead in the future!
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