Forwards and Backwards

Always remember to count forwards and backwards as often as possible.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10....

...10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0

Counting forwards is the basis of addition and multiplication.

Counting backwards is the basis of subtraction and division.

Number Line or Number Square

Sometimes it's helpful to use a number line or number square when counting, so children can relate the number name to the number symbol. Sometimes point to the number symbol as they count, or get them to.

Some number squares are available on the resources page.

Counting with Objects

It can also be helpful to count with objects. There are 2 ways to do this.

Firstly counting a number of objects by pointing to them or moving them. For example, have a set of 10 objects, and count them, 1, 2, 3... as your child picks each object and moves it.

Secondly, and this needs more objects, have piles of 1, 2, 3, 4... objects and point to each pile of objects as they count.

Important If you child can recognise a set of objects up to 5 or so, then don't ask them to count. For example, if you show your child 3 bricks and they say that's "3", accept that and don't count them. This concept is called subitising, and children should be able to subitise a random set of objects up to 5. If we always count when children can subitise, it may be possible to unlearn the subitising.

Counting in ...


Start by counting in 1's, forwards and backwards.

With very young children begin 1, 2, 3.

Then up to 5, and on to 10.

Count backwards from 10.

Build it up to 20 and beyond eventually up to 100.

Remember to count backwards.

You can always use songs.

maths@home Ten in the Bed


Counting in 2's (from 0) gives us the even numbers. There are simple rhymes to help: 2, 4, 6, 8...

Point out the pattern in the units:

  2,   4,   6,    8, 10
12, 14, 16, 18, 20
22, 24, 26, 28, 30

Count backwards in 2's as well.