Forgetting things is a common occurrence for many of us, but imagine being a 4-year-old child who suddenly forgets how to count. It might sound unusual, but it’s a common phenomenon that some parents and educators have witnessed.
The ability to count is a fundamental skill that we learn in our early years, and it’s crucial for our development and future academic success.
However, when a young child suddenly forgets how to count, it can be concerning for parents and caregivers.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why a 4-year-old might forget how to count and what parents can do to help their child regain this essential skill.
Is it normal if a 4-year-old forget how to count?
Yes, it is normal.
A 4-year-old child can memorize numbers in order up to 10 or even more, but when it comes to counting objects, they might not count in the correct sequencing every time.
Reading or writing till 1-10 or above is quite simple for them, but counting the objects needs multiple skills such as hand and eye coordination, memorization of numbers in the correct order, concentration, etc., so many parents can relate that their 4-year-olds sometimes forget to count when even they know how to read and write it.
Moreover, memory lapse is also a common thing during brain development. Memory lapse refers to the child’s inability to remember an event that happened in the past or something he has learned that gets affected during brain development for some time.
4-year-old counting milestones:
An average 4-year-old child can count up to 10, though some of them may also be able to count higher, even up to 20 or 30. (Here we are talking about counting the objects, not reading the numbers).
Along with counting, 4-year-olds can understand the concept of one-to-one correspondence, which means they know that each object should be counted once. They can also count objects in smaller groups, like within 5, without skipping or double counting them.
But when the counting goes above 10 to 15, they might start to double count or skip some objects.
At this stage, a child can understand the concept of addition and subtraction of very small numbers like 1+1=2, or 2-1+1, etc
Other possible reasons why a 4-year-old might forget how to count:
1- lack of practice:
Mathematics is all about practice. If your child isn’t doing regular practice of counting numbers, chances are there that he forgets to count how to do it.
2- lack of interest:
Some kids naturally do not like counting or mathematical stuff. Either they have another favorite subject on which they love to spend more time, or they simply find counting numbers difficult.
3- The child is overwhelmed because of pushing:
Sometimes parents push their children to concentrate more on the areas where they lack. It might be possible that the over-pushing to be perfect in counting overwhelms the child; hence, he usually forgets it.
Counting numbers needs full concentration; even if you think of yourself, you cannot count properly if there is a lot of distraction, interruption, or noise around you. The same might happen with your 4-year-old; he can’t count correctly due to several distractions in his room.
He might want to play or watch cartoons at the time of study. Notice if other family members are around when your child is counting? He might be interested in other’s activities.
5- Developmental delays:
At the age of 4, children are still in the early stages of cognitive development, and their memory and attention span may not be fully developed. As a result, it is common for young children to forget things, including counting.
6- Learning disability:
There is a chance that a 4-year-old with too much difficulty in counting, recognizing, and writing numbers has dyscalculia.
Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects the child’s ability to understand and work with numbers. Especially for the preschooler, it could have a major impact on the learning process as, at this stage, children are taught the basics.
Such children have difficulty with basic number concepts such as counting, recognizing, and understanding the concept of quantity. They get confused with numbers with similar formations, like 6 and 9, and mirror-write them.
But at age 4, it is too early to diagnose dyscalculia as it also has other significant signs like lack of time management, difficulty recognizing the size and portions, etc.
If you are concerned, it’s best to talk to a doctor.
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How to help your 4-year-old practice counting?
Follow these tips to help your 4-year-old count like a pro.
1- Make them practice counting as fun (not as studying):
Count everything around them, from counting your child’s toys to counting the stairs he climbs. Ask your child to count the cars, flowers, and trees on the way when you are headed somewhere.
Do counting in everyday situations, like Counting how many spoons, plates, and glasses you need for dinner, how many stars you got the whole week, or how many books you have on your bookshelf, etc. This will help your child see how counting is a part of everyday life.
2- Get counting toys:
Counting toys are absolutely helpful. Get some, and you will see visible progress in your child.
I’m listing a few that are super good.
Chomp and Count Dino by VTech is all about color, shapes, numbers, and food. This dino comes with eight play pieces through which the child can learn different things according to age. It has a number from 1 to 5 written on the shapes to make the child learn about numbers and shapes altogether. Overall it’s a good pick for the toddler so that he can learn numbers in a fun way.
The learning journey: Match it puzzle is an amazing collection of two-piece puzzles with one having objects on it and the other one has numbers on it. It is designed for the kids to introduce counting and recognizing numbers by connecting the correct puzzles. These puzzles have colorful illustrations through which the child polishes his early math skills.
Melissa & Doug Abacus is a classic educational counting toy that imitates the traditional style abacus from the past. It has 10 sets of 10 colorful beads that can help the child to count 100. This open-ended play toy can make your child busy for hours. Kids can pretend and play many kinds of games through this Abacus and learn maths in a fun way.
3- Start with small numbers:
Begin with numbers one to five and gradually increase as the child gets more comfortable. As 4-year-olds understand basic concepts with small numbers due to their age-counting milestone.
4- Count with them:
Instead of asking the child to always count, help them. Count a few things for them. Take turns. “I will count the moons on this page and you will count the stars.”
Sometimes, when you are counting, pretend to forget to count and ask the child to help you. Or do the counting wrong and see if your child can catch it.
Kids become more excited about an activity when they are winning and catching mistakes.
4- Use visual aids:
Visual aids such as counting blocks, toys, or pictures can help make counting more tangible for young children. What better can you have when your child learns and play together? So invest in toys that have something to do with counting.
5- Sing counting songs:
Singing counting songs like “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” or “Five Little Ducks” can make learning to count more enjoyable and memorable and help the child learn counting in a fun way.
7- Play counting games:
Play games that involve counting, like “I Spy.” For example, you can say, “I spy with my little eye, something Yellow. Can you find it?” Your child will have to look around and count how many yellow objects they see.
8- Repeat and reinforce:
Repetition is key when teaching a new skill. Ensure to reinforce counting regularly, and praise the child for their efforts and progress.
Reinforcement counting play can be beneficial for the child to remember counting perfectly. Use objects like blocks or beads to help your child count. Have them count how many objects there are, and then ask them to add or subtract things.
9- Be patient and positive:
Learning to count can take time, so being patient and positive with the child is important. Encourage them to keep trying and celebrate their successes along the way.
Remember that each child learns differently, so your teaching approach must be flexible and adjust. However, with consistent practice and reinforcement, most children can learn to count and develop strong math skills.
It is totally normal for a 4-year-old to forget how to count. They are still learning. Sometimes, they will skip a number or sometimes they will double count, that’s how they learn.
The key is practice. Make them practice in a fun way. Play counting games, get counting toys, and let your child have fun with the numbers.