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Counting and Cardinality: Improve

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to help children learn about numbers, counting, quantities, and numerals is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that help preschoolers learn about numbers, counting, quantities, and numerals.1
    • Ask questions that encourage purposeful counting and comparing quantities of objects.
    • Expose children to quantities represented in different forms; for example, three:
      • Objects
      • Fingers
      • A pictograph
      • Numeral (3)
      • Tally marks
      • A pattern of dots
    • Provide ongoing informal experiences with environmental print to expose children to the link between number symbols and their different meanings; for example, the numeral five:
      • Next to a picture of five apples
      • On a book page
      • In labels on houses and buses
      • On license plates
    • Support children’s ability to count by:
      • Providing lots of objects to count
      • Starting with small sets of objects
      • Beginning with objects arranged linearly
      • Modeling counting (e.g., pointing to, touching, or moving each object aside as it its counted)
      • Encouraging children to correct themselves when they make a mistake counting (e.g., “Let’s count again. One, two ... ”)
    • Have children practice one-to-one correspondence within the context of daily routines (e.g., placing one shovel in each bucket, giving one paper to every child, or distributing dishes or napkins to each person at the table).
    • Observe and listen to children’s counting so you can plan to scaffold their development with individualized activities and learning experiences.
  • In home-based programs, effective practices may also include broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Have children practice one-to-one correspondence within the context of daily routines, you might invite your coach/supervisor to join you during a meal time. Ask him to note how you take advantage of this routine to encourage children’s practice of one-to-one correspondence as they set the table, pass food, and clean up.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s understanding and use of numbers, counting, quantities, and numerals?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 242–250, Understanding Number and Quantity, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf [PDF, 8.8MB].

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 3, 2018