Mothers like to tell (say) that their children count very well. Most often this means that the child can say without stumbling “One-two-three-four-five-…fifteen-sixteen”, not missing anything. This is a useful skill, however it is related more to the area of memory and verbal skills, but not to mathematics. If these same children start counting objects, usually no problems arise with the first 5-6, but then the kids move one object while saying rapidly “seven-eight-nine”, or, on the contrary, while saying “eleven” they move already several objects.
When a child is only beginning to master counting, it may be difficult for him or her to begin with anything other than one. While counting in order he knows that the number seven comes after the number six. But if asked separately:
“What number is bigger than six by one?” – this question may make some children hesitate.
“And what number is smaller than seven by one?” – and children who had just now been confidently counting in order up to 20 also answer with a delay.
“There were five birds, then some more came flying, so there became seven. How to know how many came?”
“There were several bananas. Half got eaten, then there were three left. How many were there to begin with?”
It is very expedient to count in order not only up, but also down. Count steps, signposts, cars, jump over every other step – and count in twos (naming every other number!)
— Let’s descend from the 20th floor. Which floor is under the twentieth? And under the nineteenth? And can you count down from twenty, however not directly but only every other step?
Little children learn about the world for a long period by tasting and feeling. Use this!
— Close your eyes and open your mouth! What have I given you? Raisins, correct. How many?
Count hands and feet, fingers and eyes, ears and soles! And now offer the child to draw a house with chalk on the floor, or take a hoop for this, or a small exercise pad.
— Let there be 2 legs in the house! And now – one leg! And how to make 4 legs? Right, you need to call someone! And now let’s make 3 legs! Can you guess how?
— Now let’s touch the floor in 3 places, for example, foot, hand, hand! And can it be done otherwise? Now show me how you can make five touches! And can you make it six?
Many parents believe that all the abovelisted games are appropriate for 3-4 year olds, however in fact it takes a long while for the notion of numbers to be formed. Often it can be seen how children cope successfully in a familiar environment and when the question is asked in a familiar way, nevertheless a question related to the same topic but formulated otherwise turns out to be very difficult to answer. That is why it is advisable to repeat such games occasionally also at the age of 5, and even at seven years old!
If children outgrew these games they would not enjoy playing them so much!