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Counting On

Counting On is the ability to count forwards from a number other than 1. Counting On is also a very helpful addition strategy but first let's look at the addition strategy that precedes counting on.


Counting Three Times

If your child is not yet able to count on, when it comes to an adding question, they will 'count three times'. Alex Lawson uses this term to describe a child who counts the first group, counts the second group and then puts all the counters together and counts everything a third time. This is the earliest stages of addition. This strategy is great for our early mathematicians but we want to encourage progression along the addition continuum.


Transitioning to Counting On

Counting On is the ability to count forwards from a number other than 1.


We can support that transition by using:

  1. Our fingers

  2. Number line

These tools are helpful because it helps your child keep track of this 'double counting'. Your child needs count the numbers in order, and they need to know when they have counted 8 times.


To use this strategy, your child will need to be able to recall the numbers after five without saying the entire counting order up to five.


Break It Down

  • You can practice this skill by asking your child, "What number comes after 5?"

  • Try rolling a dice and counting on from the different numbers

Add in Another Skill

  • In order to support double counting, we can use dice with dots to help students keep track of how many times they have counted on

  • I like to use a dice with the numbers written on it and a dice with dots on it to support students who are transitioning to counting on


Counting On As an Addition Strategy

Once students get the hang of it, it is a very efficient strategy.


If the question is 5 + 8

  • The child says five

  • Then the child counts on eight times from the number 5 which sounds like: “6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13”


Counting On from the Larger Number

This strategy involves understanding the commutative property of addition.

This property tells us that 5 + 8 = 8 + 5

The order that we add does not matter.


When a student knows this, they can apply it to the question 5+8. It is more efficient to count on 5 times, as opposed to counting on 8 times. When students understand this property of addition, we will see students counting on from the larger number:

  • The child says eight

  • Then the child counts on five times from the number 8 which sounds like: "9, 10, 11, 12, 13"


It is helpful to know what conceptual understanding is necessary for students to progress in their mathematical thinking to the next step. If they are missing that foundational information, frustration and a distaste for mathematics may arise. At Latch Onto Learning, we support students of all ages and at a wide range of skill levels so they can progress in their mathematical thinking to the next level.




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