Learning the numbers

Little gosling can count to 10 in English, Romanian and French… What I mean is that he can recite from memory numbers from 1 to 10 in order. He can count a limited number of items with help; otherwise, he speeds ahead and ends up with more items :P. I still recall some weeks ago telling my mom he could count as far as 2 :P… It did not start out as a conscious effort to teach him to count, although somewhere along the way it became a sort of a contest between languages. I’ll explain. 

We started toying with numbers 1-10 through a wooden puzzle; little gosling must have been around 15 months when we got him the puzzle. It was either numbers or more of the same farm animals puzzles… He loves wooden puzzles and he has a great visual memory, so he managed relatively quickly to do the puzzle, without having any idea of what those numbers represented. Nevertheless, I kept telling him the numbers every time we did the puzzle together. Long after he had started playing with it, he would only still recognize number 1 when asked to point to it. 

As he approached his second anniversary, he was busier and busier and so easily distracted when eating, bathing or changing the diaper; not to mention taking him away from the playground. Finishing any of these simple routine tasks took forever and quite some energy consumption on my side. I started explaining and giving him notice of what would happen next; with some time to process that he needed to stop what he was doing and do what needed to be done, he became cooperative. So, I told him I would count to three, at which point I needed him to do whatever…. I counted without any hurry and …. it worked (most of the time). So, a force de repeter, he started to count with me to three.. Then he went ahead and counted to three on his own, stopping from whatever he was doing and at the end do whatever I requested of him. 

Once he mastered the 1, 2, 3, I thought why not go up to 10..  For a while, he systematically skipped over 7, no idea why:))… Anyway, in what felt like no time, he was reciting the numbers to 10. There is always a short pause after nine and ten is excitedly shouted, accompanied by the repeated opening and closing of his small fists.. It is a small victory, after all!  

The coronavirus lockdown also helped :P. How? Well, we’re supposed to rub our hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, so… First thing we do when coming back home from outside is washing hands. So, to make sure he does wash his hands long enough, we count to 10 out loud several times. It has worked really smoothly. When daddy realised little gosling could count to 10 in English, he started washing hands together with us; we counted once in English, once in Romanian to 10 (and there were our 20 seconds of rubbing). He skipped number seven in Romanian as well; now, that is the only number that he pronounces funnily (”șapi” instead of ”șapte”). Daddy was also the one who thought, why not teach him the numbers in French as well?! And so he did one afternoon.. Then daddy started to play around counting with his fingers. Little gosling loves it. 

Little gosling loves pressing the elevator buttons and he knows “zero goes down (and he bows), five (where we live) goes up (and he puts his arms up)”. Also, when we’re done washing him, he gets to play with the shower on his own, the time that it takes him to count to10, and then turn the tap off, and he’s so happy about that…

We’ve now started counting from 10 to 20 in all three languages. So far, he seems to like it more in French, but he does ask to hear them repeatedly in all three. He can identify numbers when he sees them and we often play games with his puzzle pieces or with his Munchkin bath numbers, although 6 and 9 appear confusing. He’s also very puzzled by 10, when seen outside his puzzle; he identifies the 1 and the 0, but does not know what it means :). The other day, walking on the street, we passed a building with the street number in big big numbers: 20; from his pram, I could hear little gosling go: “two, zero.” :)))) Precious!

We’ve started using books to help him fix the numbers. And we’re counting every chance we get, much as what we did with the colours.

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