Fluency and Counting Skills


There does not appear to be any particular standard to determine when counting skills are fluent or even adequate. Primary school teachers teach students to count until they ( the teachers) are content with the results, whatever those results may be.

This lack of a consistent standard allows for a high degree of variation among students. Some are held to a high standard; others are never really tested. As a result, the variability causes a wide range of skill levels in classrooms. This directly impacts the teaching of arithmetic operations. If one child can count fluently and another child is reduced to counting on his or her fingers, the math lesson is going to be a very different experience for these two students.

For years, teachers who subscribe to the Precision Teaching method designed by Dr. Ogden R. Lindsley have had a rock solid standard for arithmetic skills, including counting.  Students should be able to do any type of counting skills at 150 counts per minute orally.  They should be able to see and write the answers to simple arithmetic operations at 50-60 single digit problems per minute with no more than 2 errors/minute.

Unless a student can master the building blocks of arithmetic with this amount of speed and this level of accuracy, they are likely to become bogged down as the curriculum increases in difficulty.

  1. Students should be able to write 140 – 160 legible digits per minute. They need that many digits to write the answers to 50-60 single digit arithmetic facts.

Have your student write the numbers from 0 -9 for 30 seconds.

0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

Students should be taught to count at 150 counts per minute with 0-2 errors

  • for any skip counting task, (counting by 2’s,5’s,10’s, 6’s etc.)
  • for counting forward from 1 or any other number.
  • For counting backward from 100 or any other number.

In this series, I have already included several counting tasks which any parent, guardian, teacher or tutor can try out with a student. I will continue to post other lessons and their fluencies in future blogs.

The foundation of all math begins with counting skills. If the student is not taught theses fundamentals from the beginning, their chances of becoming competent math student devolves to a point close to zero.

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