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How children learn about numbers

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Children learn the value of numbers and counting skills by day to day, repetitive and fun activities. Counting should always be clearly modelled for children, for example, each time you walk up and downstairs with your child, count the steps as you go. There are many fun and exciting ways to encourage the love of numbers without it becoming too daunting for the child. Remember... modelling counting is key, praise the child each time they repeat correctly, and correct the child when mistakes are made. Children love to play games, so by incorporating counting with games, children will excel at a quicker rate.

Some fun and engaging counting activities may include; counting the cars that drive by; counting animals on a field; counting food items on a plate; counting houses on a street; counting people in a queue, the list goes on. The more children practice counting, the quicker their confidence will grow.


As children become pre school age, they will begin to recognise some formation of numbers and letters. As their fine motor skills are still developing and their muscles are not yet fully developed in their fingers, try some simple activities to represent numbers in different ways (other than just pen and paper). They could try drawing numbers in sand trays, they could use playdough mats with numbers (rolling the number shape and counting out the number of playdough balls). They could also clip the correct number of pegs onto number cards or count cubes into numbered cups. Magnetic numbers and 'Numicon' are also great resources for teaching the value of numbers. The list goes on. Take a look at our math resources page to explore some more fun and engaging ways to support children learning about numbers.