Counting children in preschool should really count

Often times teachers only think of counting their students when they are headed out on a field trip or going outdoors to play. But getting into the habit of counting children should start even when you are in the classroom all day!

Here are a few tips for keeping safe track of your students…

  • Keep a folder or clipboard with a checklist of names of each of your students on it.
  • Before leaving one room to go to another, look at each child’s face as you count him or her and place a check mark beside his or her name.
  • Count the total number of children before leaving one location to go to another and before returning from one location to go to another.
  • Walk backwards and face the children as you lead them from one place to another so you can make sure no child decides to stop and fix a shoe or runs off for any reason at all.
  • If you have more than one teacher, place one teacher at the front of the line and another teacher at the back of the line – keep all the children between the two of you.


  • If you are going on a field trip, be sure to bring your master checklist of names and know exactly how many students and adults you have going on the trip.
  • Recruit extra adult volunteers to help you keep a low child to adult ratio.
  • Assign each adult a specific number of children and give each adult a checklist with the names on it that they will be in charge of.
  • Count the number of children before leaving any building and before getting on the bus or in a car and count often all throughout your trip.

We have all heard the stories of a child who was left behind on a field trip, left on a bus, or a child who walked out of a childcare building and was found walking in the middle of the road – I read that in the news.

Don’t take counting children lightly…

Count, Count, and Count again – a child’s life just may count on it!

By |2011-03-10T22:25:05+00:00March 10th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Karen March 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    I am constantly counting my kids. Not so much when we are in the classroom because I have to keep the door closed where we are located. But when we leave the classroom, go to the lunchroom, are in the gym, on the playground, I am constantly counting.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      I am so thankful teachers, like you, make counting an important part of their daily routine!

      • Karen March 11, 2011 at 6:42 am

        Sometimes it is difficult to count them, especially when they are running around on the playground. I feel a bit paranoid but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  2. Scott March 11, 2011 at 10:45 am - Reply

    I tend to be obsessive about this – not so much in the classroom but whenever we leave the confines of it. I guess it comes from an experience in my youth – I worked at a conference center with preschoolers. As we walked to the playground one day, a parent picked up a child from the end of the line and the other teacher did not tell me. I looked for 5-10 minutes for the “missing” child until the other teacher said, “Oh yeah. She left with her mom.”

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm - Reply

      Oh boy – I would be having a little discussion with that teacher:)

  3. Kelly March 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    These are great tips! I find myself counting my kids when we’re out and I only have 3, lol! I’ve substituted at their preschool before and I’m paranoid about where all the kids are at any given time.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      If I had three of my own kids I would be counting all the time too:)

  4. jessica March 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    i do all time and we dont leave rooms much but my counts change so i do it a few times a day , then meals and outside and in . am always worried am going to forget whos here

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      It is a great practice Jess! Well done:)

  5. brenda March 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    I agree with you on this. In my daycare center, I do have my own room, but at certain times of the day, as parents bring in their child; children leave for the day; and as well at certain times children from other groups may visit, or join us, as child care staff leave for the day – we are in flux, and so I am always counting to ensure I know where each child is. I was fortunate to start my child care career in a wonderful center with an extremely involved director, who was on the floor lots helping, and providing feedback and suggestions. And always her first question to me was “What is your count”, so I think it became second nature to me to always be aware of my count. This was in 1988, and I know along with other positive contributions she made to my development, I credit her with my ability to be counting my kids always.

    One fun way I’ve found to keep my kids from wandering when walking to the play park, or other places outside the center, is to sing the song “This is the way we .. pat our head, lift our knees, stomp our feet, etc.”, and I find with actions to focus on, the children arrive to their destination before they might think of wandering, and I do turn to face them generally when leading them.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      Love the idea of singing a song to keep their focus on you and what you are doing together as a group! At our school, I can say that the number one question I hear being asked all day is – “How Many?” LOL! I love that your director was so involved – she obviously has made quite the impression on you and your teaching skills!

Leave A Comment

This site uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using the website means you're OK with this. Ok