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Counting begins with the task of reproducing a sequence of number words starting from one. Over time, children’s familiarity with the sequence of counting words develops to the point where they are able to identify the number word before or after any number without needing to start the count from one. That is, the process of oral counting starts as a fixed recitation but moves to a ‘breakable chain’ of number words.

Students can use counting as the basis of a range of strategies, including various kinds of additions and subtractions. Within these strategies, counting refers to more than producing the forward sequence of number words, sometimes called rote counting. If you ask a student what number comes after nine, he or she will often initially count from one to find the answer. To be able to use the strategy of counting-on, students need to be able to know the sequence of number words well enough to continue counting from any number. That is, you cannot count on from seven if you do not know the number word that follows seven. 


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The Numeracy Continuum Introduction Video