Math & Numbers

Sense and Awareness

Math and number awareness involves your child recognizing numbers, counting, learning one-to- one correspondence, identifying patterns, and engaging in sorting and classif ying.


Helena has just come home with Dad from a parent’s day out activity. Helena says, “Daddy, I want apple.” Dad begins to prepare an afternoon snack for her by getting two apples from the fruit bowl and washing them. Dad says, “Let’s count how many apples we have.” Helena looks at the apples for a moment and together they begin to point and count each apple, “One, two ...” Then Dad cuts one apple in half and says, “Let's count how many pieces we have. One, two ...” Dad then says, “Good job! We have two pieces.”


With Dad’s help Helena is able to count two objects. By pausing for a moment, Helena uses her mental ability to think about what she is looking at (apples) and about to do (I need to point as I count), and then she counts the apples before they are cut into pieces.

Math and number awareness involves your child recognizing numbers, counting, learning one-to one correspondence, recognizing patterns, sorting, and classifying.

Number sense is seeing how numbers represent an amount. For example, how the symbol “2” is related to a quantity: two apples.

Number sense develops in stages. The first stage occurs during your child’s toddler year when you must support your child by helping her learn to count objects out loud and assign each object a number. By assigning each object a number, you are helping your child see that there is a connection between the number and the amount of objects you are counting. As toddlers become older, they will also start to use relational words to indicate more or same in addition to number words.

During the toddler years, you and your child will count together because your child cannot yet count on her own and extra support is needed; however, as your child reaches the age of two, she will begin to count out loud independently from you. Counting is a huge milestone for your child, and it demonstrates that she understands the concept of number sense.

To support your child’s number sense ability, count objects out loud that your child sees in her environment. Objects can include counting out loud how many blocks are on the floor or how many shoes are at the front door. Just like in the example in which Dad is helping Helena count the pieces of apple for snack, you can also help develop your child’s number sense through everyday routines (e.g. counting the number of cups at the table for dinner). By doing so, you are ensuring that your child will be able to succeed in early math and beyond.