Number Recognition Guide: its importance & different learning methodologies

Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Editorial Team

Aiding in a child’s growth is one of the most crucial tasks for any parent or caretaker/educator, whereby the expectations of the child must be met in terms of offering care & satisfying his/her needs.  Meanwhile, on the same journey, skills required for the future must be inculcated in the child that requires that he/she gets molded.

One of the most common skills that must be taught is basic math skills. It includes the core skills, like number recognition that must be instilled from a very young age. Read on further to associate oneself more with number recognition, its importance, beginning, different teaching techniques & employment of usage of external help for more engaged learning.


What is number recognition?

Number recogntion definition guide

Number recognition skill is the term collectively used for the ability to recognize, visualize as well as name the very basic numerals – the numbers. Though seeming very broad, number recognition can be split up into smaller classes of concepts & skills. These can be like identifying the right count of objects, matching the correct numbers with the count of objects, and the correct nomenclature of the count.

Thus, for the children to imbibe the essence of number recognition, number names must be taught, and they must frequently recognize, associate & write down digits. Also, they should be able to understand counting as well as match the right numbers to the available quantity.

Why is it important?

The number recognition & related skills have vital roles to play in almost all walks of one’s life. The number recognition skills build upon the initially developing number sense in a child, i.e., a child takes notice of the number of objects in a group.  Secondly, the child is supported in learning how to count, whereby cardinality is acquired, practiced & exercised. Additionally, these skills are strong support in supplementing the learning of arithmetic concepts.

These skills impact the linguistic skills, too of a learner. LeFevre[1] showcased that the number recognition task had positively, directly & significantly affected phonology as well as the vocabulary of a child. The study was basically a longitudinal study that included 182 children from various grades, ranging from kindergarten till second grade. The results found that linguistic skills at the stage are actually a precursor for the initial symbolic number system, which consequently led to further mathematical understanding. Also, it was found by Purpura & Reid[2] in their research that children with difficulties in basic numeracy skills like number recognition,  most commonly had language as well as literacy difficulties.

Authors Arthur & Kelly (2006), in their study[3], too insist the same. They suggest & propose that the national interest must be considered & mathematics, especially number & operation sense, must be embedded in the children at their earliest days of life. Thus, inculcation of the mathematics skills, though very basic ones like number recognition, are significant as their research too insists that mathematics shouldn’t be overlooked & shouldn’t all be avoided or left behind in childhood.

When does number recognition begin?

Number recognition has no specific beginning & ending since numbers are found everywhere. Thus, educating about number recognition involves teaching the learners about the numbers that are found everywhere in the surrounding environment and also being used in math.

Thus, many of our everyday items like TV remotes, cars, price tags, street & house numbers, traffic signs, phones have numbers. Also, every other portion of the home/classroom/playground has numbers found abundantly in them.

The beginning of the teaching of number recognition can come with some emphasis on daily activities. These can be like asking the child if the right number of plates is put on tables, asking the child to check the number of broken & unbroken toys & literally in everything that the child finds/does.

Different teaching techniques for number recognition

1. Techniques

Thus, having understood that teaching recognition of numbers can be done anywhere & anytime, it’s also essential to streamline that teaching process for utmost quality & efficiency in learning. The various techniques for teaching number recognition are:

  • the basic language of counting – this technique teaches the nomenclature of numbers, introduces the child to the world of numbers and also counting the quantity found in other cultures
  • The entire process of counting– this technique insists on making the children name all the numbers in the right sequence, from any starting point, in all sorts – forwards and backward. Also, this technique gradually creates an understanding of what a sequence is and how all the numbers in the world are just different combinations with the same digits, starting from zero to one. Thus, this technique basically aims at making the child see the number as a particular order of digits & compare patterns amongst many.
  • The next technique is linking the nomenclature of numbers, the respective numerals & apt quantities, taking zero into account too.
  • Lastly, counting is emphasized as not just mere chanting of numbers but includes a set of steps or a proper set of “Counting Principles.”  These elucidate the understanding that every object/entity must be counted only once. And also that the orientation or alignment of objects doesn’t impact the count. Besides this, it helps in the realization that the last number counted has the answer to the question, “how many are there?”

2. Explore Groupings

Recognition of numbers is one of the primary skills that lay the base for other mathematical skills like counting. Thus, the children must gain mastery in it. For instance, children would develop gradually in counting. Still, when questioned as to the number of objects found, they again resort to recounting & don’t understand that the last count is the actual count of the quantity.

But, if they can visualize the number of groups of one/two/three & so on, they will understand & realize that if it’s counted one, only one entity exists & counting two means, one more object is added. Thus, with this, they know to correlate what they are already aware of & what seems new. Therefore, number recognition reflects on their skills like counting & other basics of analytical & reasoning skills.

Similarly, many other sophisticated skills develop in the process of learning the recognition of numbers. One of the finest examples of such elegant skills is subitizing, or the instantaneous & direct identification of the number of objects/ stating the count, standing by the very etymology of the word “subitizing” – implying, “suddenly.”

Faster recognition might seem an obvious thing that doesn’t need considerable importance. But, it is the foundation for quicker grasping & applying concepts like addition. For instance, quicker recognition of three & six is essential for adding up to their sum, nine. If a child stammers around recognizing six, it is extremely difficult in visualizing seven, eight & night that consequently follow six.  Thus, making the children sensitive to numbers & number recognition is so important & is inevitably required.

3. Learning in various places

Learning of number recognition can be a part of the home, surrounding environment as well as the classroom. The home & surrounding environment can nurture, nourish, & enhance the number recognition skills without even the child actually knowing (for example, using three varied colored pencils for drawing).

The classroom would then improvise & fine-tune the knowledge the children actually possess in number recognition.  Some of the classroom exercises include:

  • Digit formation up to twenty numbers,
  • matching the digits with their names & exact quantity up to twenty objects,
  • comparison of small quantities,
  • knowing the particular sequence of numbers,
  • thinking mathematically,
  • improving language & terms related to number recognition

4. Use of External Help 

  1. Activities: Learning is always joyous if it’s filled with fun. The present world can indulge one in fun-filled learning, both offline & online methods via a wide range of activities. A variety of offline activities like songs & rhymes with numbers, flashcards, everyday counting can break the monotonous & boring way of learning and can foster interaction & joy in the heart of children. Check out activities for building number recognition skills.
  2. Games: Playing with numbers is fun as well as exciting. At the same time, the child recognizes each number easily. Authors Kate Reid & Nicholas Andrew insist the same; in their study. The authors also propose the teaching number recognition via games involving aspects like patterns, shapes, measurements, etc. It also would constitute the best part of their childhood. Here are some common games for improving number recognition skills.
  3. Apps: There are numerous applications on playstore and Appstore that are helpful in building the foundation of numbers in the best way.

Matchreal-life activities for faster understanding

Learning becomes too stressful if there is a huge difference between theory and practice. To bridge that gap & inculcate number recognition skills, it would be great if real-life activities are linked with the learning process where the child can visibly track one’s process & see the actual process of learning.

Some Last Words

Number recognition skills are one of the key skills for developing other skills, though it might seem complicated to educate the children. But, this hard nut can be crackled if the right teaching methods as aforementioned are applied.


  1. LeFevre, A., Fast, L., Skwarchuk, L., Smith-Chant, B. L., Bisanz, J., Kamawar, D., & Penner-Wilger, M. (2010). Pathways to Mathematics: Longitudinal Predictors of Performance. Child Development, 81(6), 1753-1767.
  2. Purpura, D. J., & Reid, E. E. (2016). Mathematics and language: Individual and group differences in mathematical language skills in young children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 259-268.
  3. Baroody, Arthur & Lai, Meng-Lung & Mix, Kelly. (2006). The Development of Young Children’s Early Number and Operation Sense and its Implications for Early Childhood Education.

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