Zoe, grandma, and grandpa were walking in the park. They noticed a flock of geese by the pond. “There are so many geese!” Zoe exclaimed. “How many geese are there?” asked grandma. Zoe began counting, carefully pointing to each goose and not skipping a single one. When she got to ten, Zoe paused. She forgot what came next, but there were still some geese left uncounted. After a brief moment, Zoe decided to count the remaining geese, starting again from one. When she was done, she happily turned to grandma and announced, “Ten geese and three more!”
When I heard this story from Zoe’s grandma, I was quite surprised and impressed. In the past, when I’d ask Zoe to count more than ten objects, she would either stop at ten or continue with some random combination of larger numbers, such as “eleven, fifteen, eighteen.” She has never consistently counted beyond ten. But here she discovered a way to convey quantities larger than ten without memorizing the arbitrary-sounding sequence of double-syllable words.
This story also once again reminded me of the importance of giving your kids tasks that you think are just a little too hard for them. Yes, there will be times when they’ll refuse to do it or whine about it, but other times it will force then to think, problem-solve, and make discoveries.