Are you Teaching your Children to Count by 301’s?

After mastering counting by 1’s to 50 or 100, many children take on the challenge of counting by 5’s or 10’s.   In my Sunday morning kindergarten class last week, one of my students was concentrating intently while writing numbers down the page.  Numbers aren’t an unusual subject for my young friend since over the last year I’ve seen him include numbers in his drawing of family members, toys or other objects.   However this day was different.

A 6-year Old's counting by 301's

A 6-year Old’s counting by 301’s

I asked, ‘what are you counting in your drawing?’ and Kaden replied, ‘I’m counting by 301’s.’  I took another look and sure enough, he was counting by 301’s.  Yep, ‘301, 602, 903 … ‘  that’s counting by 301’s alright.  He was already way down the page so I did some quick math in my head wondering, how in the world he got to ‘2709’ — which took me a second to double check and confirm that was was indeed correct.  He stopped when he got to 4214.

I told him that I thought counting by 301’s is really cool and I was impressed with his work.  I asked him why 301’s?  He said, ‘I just wanted to,’ and went on to do something else.

Curiosity is a wonderful thing and our children are overflowing with it.  ‘Why?’ is right up there with ‘No!’ as one of the most common words out of the mouths of preschoolers.

A chemistry teacher, Ramsey Musallam, featured recently in a 6 minute TedTalk, shared some great advice on ways to spark learning in our children.  View the video below.

If you can’t view the video, click here.

Mr. Musallam reminds teachers and parents:

  • ‘Curiosity comes first.  Questions are the seeds of real learning.’ Parents and teachers need to balance their role as ‘teachers of information’ with the role of ‘cultivators of curiosity and inquiry.’
  • ‘Embrace the Mess’ — Each child’s curiosity is different so trial and error is important
  • ‘Practice Reflection’ — Reflect and revise your teaching techniques so you are always improving.

Thinking about my young friend this week, I was hopeful that his curiosity would grow and that perhaps one of our world’s greatest challenges may one day be solved by the mind of my curious young friend.   I was also reminded as a parent and part-time teacher that we have a responsibility to encourage curiosity and learning in our next generation of students and not let it grow dim or be extinguished by ‘boring’ rote instruction.

So my answer to my question, ‘should you teach your children to count by 301’s?’ is ‘Yes and No.’  Teaching children to count by 5’s and 10’s is probably a good thing, better if you connect it with a real-world example like counting nickels or dimes.  However, it’s probably not a good thing to teach your child how to count by 301’s. Unless, you first have a discussion about numbers and counting by 301’s is his or her idea.

I hope this story of my friend Kaden encourages you to look for new opportunities to encourage curiosity in students you know no matter what their age.

What ways do you, as a farsighted parent cultivate curiosity in your children?  Please share your questions or comments here.