While “subitizing” may not be a well-known word, it is certainly an important mathematical skill. Subitizing is the ability to instantly recognize the number of objects without actually counting them. This mathematical skill allows students to gain a grasp of numbers and advance to higher levels of addition.
Subitizing is essential for children’s mathematical development for many reasons:
- Subitizing helps children to understand what numbers mean or how many “things” a number refers to
- It can develop children’s pattern recognition
- Children can over-rely on counting
There are two types of subitizing: perceptual and conceptual. Our brains can only easily subitize numbers up to five – this is perceptual subitizing. Anything above five is conceptual subitizing. This is because the numbers then start to relate to a larger quantity of things and identifying ‘how many’ without counting becomes more difficult.
For example, to subitize six, we would need to subitize three and three; four and two; or five and one. Only then could we combine the number pairs together to arrive at an answer of six.
If your child has difficulty in math, it could be because they can’t subitize. I’d love to help!