Count Bubulah!

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(Bub ‘says’ 5!)

Every mum thinks their little one is super clever, don’t they? And I’m no different about Bub. I secretly (or not so secretly) think he’s the smartest toddler ever. However his limited speech tends to lead to fewer opportunities to see it in practice. And this makes me enjoy even more the times I see his brains in action! Forgive me, then, as I shamelessly brag about my Bub’s numerical interests.

Bub is fascinated by numbers. He is obsessed with the fact that he is two. He continually says it, over and over, keen for reassurance that yes he is two. And no, he is not three. And mummy is three-four. Etc etc. Repeat ad infinitum!

He can only say some numbers. And he can sign others on his hands. So when we discuss numbers it’s a bizarre mix of spoken word and fingers raised in the air. At the moment he can say 2, 3 and 8. He sometimes tries to say 4 and 5. And he can show on his fingers the numbers 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 (sometimes), 9 (sometimes) and 10. So when we play counting games or look at numbers he responds with a mix of spoken word and fingers raised. He can also recognise all written numbers, in digit form, up to and including 20. Though at present his signing/speaking can’t go above ten. He can say ‘loads’ though, which means any number more than he feels up to counting.

He instantly spots if there is two or three of something. In fact he uses the shouted number to identify this repetition (eg pointing and shouting ‘two!’ at a passing pair of dogs.) He can count, silently to himself whilst pointing item to item, from four to ten. If we set out some toys and he counts them he can show me how many there are, with about 70% accuracy, using words and fingers. He gets a bit confused signing 7 and 9 but rarely gets 8 or 10 wrong so I think the signing is more challenging than the counting.

Bub can also do basic addition and subtraction. We talk to him about what would happen if mummy has four pretend sweets and we take one away. He knows there are three left, just like that. And if we take another it’s two, then one, then none. He can also do addition by one, up to about five, too.

I’m not at all sure how this compares to other kids. I imagine it’s not too unusual. Like I said I think it’s partly because Bub says so little this seems so skilful. I also wonder if his lack of speech might, strangely, be helping him count. He doesn’t just recite numbers by rote, because speech is hard for him. Using a combination of words and fingers is challenging him to really think about it. And his use of numbers instead of nouns to identify things of interest no doubt presses home counting even more. Either way it’s nice to see him doing really well in one area at least. And the fact that he can count almost higher than the number of words in his vocabulary is strangely reassuring too.

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