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Preparing children to be successful in math during elementary school begins long before that first day of Kindergarten. New research shows that both reciting and counting (assigning numerical values to objects) should be emphasized in a preschool or daycare curriculum to lay the groundwork for understanding more challenging math concepts in elementary school. In fact, the study implies that being able to count objects up to 20 in chronological order predicts success in first grade.

Preschoolers’ counting abilities and first-grade math abilities

Louis Manfra, PhD reviewed the reciting and counting abilities of 3,000 at-risk students in preschool and then later in first grade. Manfra found that the students with the highest math scores in first grade could also recite and count to 20 while in preschool. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of the at-risk students could count and recite to 20.

“Counting gives children stronger foundations when they start school,” Manfra said in a press release. “The skills children have when they start kindergarten affect their trajectories through early elementary school; therefore, it’s important that children start with as many skills as possible.”

He goes on to stress the importance of integrating counting practice into daily routines and rituals.

“You can learn anything anywhere, and this is very true for counting,” Manfra said. “When adults read books with children, they can count the ducks on the page. They might count the leaves that fall to the ground outside or the number of carrots at lunchtime.”

Daycare curriculum uses music to teach counting and more

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) advocates for math learning in contexts that simultaneously supports other types of thinking and problem solving, such as music. Research continues to show how music impacts mathematics achievement.

ABC Music & Me - Early Literacy and Language CurriculumOur preschool curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses music and movement to teach children early math skills, such as counting and reciting, as well as early literacy and language skills, self-control, sharing, turn-taking, and other school readiness skills. When used as a daycare curriculum, ABC Music & Me can be an effective (and fun!) way for children to learn and practice early math concepts.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me as a preschool or daycare curriculum, email us at

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