I am currently teaching basic mathematics like numbers and tables to a $5$ year old girl. She is in nursery. But I am facing troubles while teaching her what comes after or before of a given number, say $71$.

Questions like "What comes after $71$?" or "__ is before $78$" she couldn't answer properly. She knows what "after" or "before" means. Once I taught her, she remembers it for few days then forget it again. Is there any easier way to teach her so that she remembers it properly, like some graphic way that a child can remember?

Many thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you can explain it with the number line en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_line ... $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2015 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ (Assuming she can already chant the numbers to 100 and count by 2s, 3s, etc) First: I posted about counting in MESE 5866. One activity to try is to find a 100-chart (example) and a "view-finder" (example) on, e.g., a 3x3 grid with only the middle square cut-out. View a sample number in the 100 chart, and practice asking which are the 8 numbers around it... $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2015 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ And do note that counting is very tough when you have not grasped "the" pattern! Asking a child what comes before 78 might be like if I asked you what letter comes four before S in the alphabet? You might have to start at the beginning of the alphabet. Or you might have a benchmark (e.g., L) from which you can start. Or you might check it one day, but then several days later have forgotten it. Counting, for a five year old, can be much the same. $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2015 at 3:00

1 Answer 1


It would seem you are being overly ambitious.

According to this link at PBS:

Some children at the beginning of this year are still learning how to verbally count by ones up to "ten." The average five-year-old, however, will be able to use the "teen" pattern to accurately count to "20." (Some children may not be able to count up to "20" until age six.) Other children will be able to use repeating patterns to accurately count up to "42," with the average child able to do this by the second half of this year. (Some children may not be able to count up to "42" until age six.) In the second half of this year, a few five-year-olds will be able to use repeating patterns to accurately count up to "200." (The average child can count to "200" at age six.)

This refers to counting. Actually understanding and using the numbers at this age:

At age five, some children may still be gaining an understanding of the number words up to "four" (e.g., distinguishes one-four items from "many"; can identify collections of up to four items with a corresponding number; asks for up to "four" of something; knows age; can put out "one," "two," "three," or "four" items upon request).

Although there are gifted children - it is not clear what value there is teaching the child something s/he is not ready for if it is not expected for children of this age.

There is lot more information at the link. There is additional information for children of other ages and for other subjects.

I used this link because it is geared for parents and the teachers at my school find it useful and accurate.

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    $\begingroup$ I am also agree with that. The syllabus that I am teaching is set by the school. Her syllabus also includes sums of numbers like $21+15$ and subtraction also. They are also taught to write upto $100$ in words and greater then, less then things. Things that are not suitable to a five year old. $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2015 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ I distinctly remember being in kindergarten, and remarking to the teacher that the naming of the numbers 11-19 was stupid. 20s-90s made perfect sense, the teens, not so much. As an adult, I've seen reference to languages that named these numbers as my younger self would have advocated. Yes, I was a gifted kid. I was counting by 5. $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2015 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ @KprimeX where do you teach? $\endgroup$
    – Amy B
    Nov 19, 2015 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ Actually I am a private tutor. @AmyB $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2015 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ @KprimeX In that case - they may have a syllabus that few students actually achieve. Have you discussed that with the teacher? $\endgroup$
    – Amy B
    Nov 19, 2015 at 14:11

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