Mathematical Thinking – One-to-One Correspondence
Column by Tutu and Me
One-to-one correspondence means linking a single number name with a single object. This is real counting. Most adults think that children are counting when they can memorize numbers in order. However, until a child is able to link one object with one number, usually by pointing, he or she is not really counting. This linking ability demonstrates that a child is thinking in terms of quantity. Learning to think this way is the necessary beginning of all number operations.
Most two year olds begin one-to-one correspondence by learning the concept of two. They can hold up two fingers when asked how old they are. Thus, a good place to begin teaching real counting, at this age, is with the concept of “one and two.” When a child is three, it is a good time to add the concept of “three or four” if they are ready.
At Tutu and Me Traveling Preschool, we have a mathematical thinking area, which gives our young keiki many one-to-one counting opportunities. During circle time, we link counting numbers with actions, such as “Let’s clap three times – 1, 2, 3.”
Try This at Home:
Use your keiki’s age as a beginning place to start one-to-one correspondence:
• Two years: Start with body parts – two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two arms, two legs, etc. Ask your two year old to get two spoons. When your child asks for cookies, ask him or her to tell you how many they want. Most likely the child will say one or two.
• Three years: Ask your child to set the table, making sure that there is a plate, glass, fork, spoon, etc. for each member of the family.
• Four years: Ask your keiki to count as many objects as he or she can. Make sure your child is counting and touching as they go. Blocks, eating utensils, rocks, and shells are good examples of things to count. If your four year old has had plenty of counting and touching experiences, he or she will have no trouble counting and touching up to 10 objects.
• During snack time let your keiki serve you and themselves.
• Count good night kisses before your child goes to sleep.
Remember, one-to-one correspondence gives children experiences in “real counting.”
Contributions from Tutu and Me Traveling Preschool, a program of Partners in Development Foundation. Tutu and Me is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.