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Having a child in Kindergarten this year, I would say that the counting they do is leading towards good number sense. What it means to be "more or less", "greater than", "one more than" and other things like that. Also help with subtraction, like when students are absent, and they know there are 25 kids in the class, they count how many students are present, and then on their fingers how many more to get to 25.
I agree with everything Lauren said. I would also add that counting is an important foundational math skill for all children. Before children are able to understand higher level concepts such as addition, subtraction, measuring, etc. they need to have a solid number sense, counting directly supports this number sense being developed. Check out these math videos for further resources on teaching counting in kindergarten:
Just plain rote counting does for math what rote recitation of the alphabet does for reading--introduce children to the language of numbers.
In order for counting activities to be valuable in Kindergarten, children need to be counting THINGS so that the rote words carry meanings of quantity.
I always have children count out a number of things onto 10-frame mats so that they can keep track and begin to understand the grouping-by-ten concept.
Hundred chart activities (although challenging at this grade level) help children see patterns in our counting system.
Here is a youTube video from mathcoachinteractive that helps explain the importance of connecting number names with meaningful quantities.
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