Learning to count is more complex that you might expect. As described in the Collaborative’s book Big Ideas of Early Mathematics, there are two different types: rote counting and rational counting. While both are useful, “when young children develop rational counting skills they are armed with a tool that enables them to understand the concept of numerosity, to compare quantities of different sets, and eventually to engage in operations. Rational counting is a foundation for children’s early work with numbers.”
This link delves into some ideas for exploring counting as well as building those primary math activities into opportunities to investigate numerosity and patterns. While it is always a good idea to encourage all kinds of counting throughout the day, there can be times teachers and parents are able to use those moments to build deeper foundations.