What Does 'Counting On' Mean?

It's hard to know some of the vocabulary for PreK, Kinder and other early childhood learners. "Counting On" threw me for quite some time! http://mathfour.com/?p=10256This 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?”

“Count on your fingers?”

“Count on your parents?”

“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.

What’s your experience with math vocabulary for little ones? Share your thoughts in the comments!



This post may contain affiliate links. When you use them, you support us so we can continue to provide free content!

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.

    • 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.”

      Thanks for your thoughts!

    • 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.

      • 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!)

Leave a reply