A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

Counting with Pictures: Better Math for Kids

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Math is an essential subject that students must learn in school. It’s a skill needed in everyday life, too. So how can you help your young child learn the basics?

Counting: it’s one of the first math skills kids learn. Now, a new study shows that the way children practice counting might affect how much they understand. Scientists looked at preschool-aged children to find out if it was better for kids to learn to count with physical objects or with pictures in a book. Results showed that counting with either objects or pictures improved kids’ counting skills equally. But children who practiced counting with pictures demonstrated a better understanding of a concept called cardinality. That’s the understanding that the number word used to tag the final item in a set tells us the total number of objects in the set. Cardinality is thought to be a foundational skill for children’s understanding of mathematics.

So while there are many ways to practice counting, this research suggests that counting objects in picture books might be a good way to give your child a boost!

Typically, when kids first learn to count, they just recite numbers without understanding the concept behind it. By age five, most kids can recognize numbers up to 10 and write them. Older five-year-olds may be able to count to 100 and read numbers up to 20.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

(Sources: https://hcpss.instructure.com/courses/124/pages/kccb4-about-the-math-learning-targets-and-opportunities-for-enrichment, https://www.babycenter.com/6_your-5-1-2-year-old-counting_10329661.bc)

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