# What Does 'Counting On' Mean?

This is a tough one for teachers of older students as well as parents.

The first time I heard “count on” at a conference I thought, “Count on what?”

### “Counting On” means…

“Counting On” means counting up from a number! (tweet this)

Let’s say you have three raisins. When you “count on” it means you start at 3 and go up (by ones) from there.

I know – simple, right?

But if you don’t know this little piece of vocabulary, you might be really lost!

### Now go do it!

Grab a kid (preferably someone you know) and help them count on from a random number.

It’s a challenge for the little ones – after all, we’ve taught them for quite some time to start counting at 1.

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### 6 Responses to What Does 'Counting On' Mean?

1. First Amendment aside, “counting on” is an idiotic, artificial addition to the mathematical lexicon, and as such should be banned from teachers’ vocabulary. If adults are confused, we can only imagine what students will think.

• Bon says:

I’m groovy with that, but it’s not my battle. If you want to invent words, propagate bad ones or kill good ones, I’m cool. As long as I know what’s what, I’m good.

Maybe that comes from so many texts in grad school using various and sundry notation.

I still think we should do functions as xf instead of f(x) – a notation that I find as annoying as you find “counting on.”

• I’d like to hang on to “counting on” since I understand what it means. It is actually a shortened version of “counting on from a given number.” That is a challenging task in my kindergarten classroom and it can mark the progress of a student’s number sense. With lots of practice and understanding, they move from counting all of the objects to starting with a known quantity and counting on. It shows a bit of math fluency.

• Bon says:

Thanks for your thoughts, Gail! We’re already working on that with K8 (she’s almost 4). I just wish there was a way for us all to share the new vocabulary with each other. (Although maybe that’s exactly what we’re doing here!)

2. Thank you for explaining “count on”….yes it’s simple but when terminology changes it’s frustrating!

• Bon says:

Indeed, Kathleen. And it seems to change SO often!