1-2-3 Go! Start Counting

by Laurie Laurendeau on August 16, 2009

Children learn to count aloud from an early age, often times before they are enrolled in any formal education classes. When children rhyme off “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10” parents get very excited because they might think that their child now knows how to count. Well, it is true that it is important for the child to count the numbers sequentially, but there is another important step that must follow, and it is called One-to-One Correspondence.


One-to-One Correspondence is the ability for a child to say a number, associate it to one object, and then continue counting one number at a time, and continue to associate it to one object at a time. The child could either point to one object at a time, or physically move an object one at a time. For example, the child might have a collection of buttons in front of him. He would say “One”, and move one button out of the group. He would then say “Two”, and move a second button out of the group, and so on. Children at the beginning stages of One-to-One Correspondence usually do better if they can physically move the object as they count. Later, they will simply point to each object as they count.


When many children first begin to physically count objects, they might say one number, but move more than one object to represent that number. It is important to show your child that one number means one object. You can help him with One-to-One Correspondence by having him assist you in counting things in your daily life.


  1. Help your child count each stair as he climbs or descends them.
  2. Count things in the kitchen: Cheerios in a bowl, mini carrot sticks, etc.
  3. Count each other’s fingers and toes.
  4. Count books on a bookshelf.
  5. Count toys (wooden blocks, puzzle pieces, etc…) as you put them away together.


Mastering One-to-One Correspondence will prepare your child for the following concepts:

  • Counting
  • Reading Numbers
  • Writing Numbers

I’m sure you and your child will find many more opportunities to count things all around you. Have fun working ‘one-on-one’ with your child with One-to-One Correspondence!


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