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COUNT-ADD-KNOW: A Strong Math Foundation Matters!

Early Number Fluency Matters:  A child's early number fluency predicts his or her later math achievement. (Check out this article.) So building a strong foundation counts—a lot!


COUNTING:  A critical early step along a child's math journey is COUNTING. And using fingers to count is very natural and just fine. Click here for article.  For example, initially, children tackle 2 + 2 = 4  by COUNTING:

  • take one group of 2
  • combine it with another group of 2
  • count how many in the combined group—1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . .
  • 4!

ADDING: Next, children start to ADD by recalling known relationships:

  • 2 + 2 = ???
  • Let me think . . .
  • Hmmm . . .I think I remember . . .
  • 4! 

KNOWING: Eventually, if retrieved and used enough, a child just knows the answer.

  • 2 + 2 = 4!
  • This happens so fast, it seems "automatic" 

How does a child transition from active adding to "automatic" knowing? Just like any other mental pathway, if the pathway that associates 2 + 2 = 4 gets revisited a lot, changes occur in the brain (involving synapses and myelin) that makes recall faster . . . and faster . . .and faster.  If revisited enough, the knowledge becomes "automatic." My favorite book about this is The Talent Code:  Greatness isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. (Check out this article, too.)


If practice is the path to fluency, it matters what is practiced. For example, if a child never switches from counting to adding, but keeps "practicing," all that happens is that the child gets better at the thing they are practicing--counting. Yet, counting, is inherently limiting. It is a slow and error-prone process. It's too slow and error prone to provide a foundation for higher math.


Counting and adding are both skills a child will still need as an adult. So it's not a matter of abandoning counting, but, when appropriate, introducing adding to a child's repertoire. And, to develop new addition skills to the point they become "automatic," the child needs to recall and use these nascent addition skills again and again and again.


SMILING DOG® Math Books are here to help kids have fun building a strong math foundation:

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