Mathematics in the Casa – The Montessori Method

Mathematics is a language that humans use to express themselves in a very precise and exact manner; it is a precise science of relationships. We are confronted daily with the need to express very exact information – How much? – How many? – How far? All of these questions require answers that must be precise and verifiable.

Mathematics involves the process of calculation which is a combination of observation and classification. Nature does not provide spontaneous means for the child to develop this potential. Therefore, mathematics is a language that children must learn in order to apply it.

Mastering mathematics may be considered one of the most abstract achievements. The Mathematical Mind relies on the Human Tendencies to develop. The Human Tendency to communicate is vital, but also of importance are the Human Tendencies of exploration, order, exactness, and abstraction. It is important for the child to develop the mathematical potential within to enable him/her to live successfully in today’s world. Maria Montessori states:

“The guide or teacher must be sure to provide the child with the right tools at the right time in the child’s development to interest the child in mathematics. If interested, the child can discover relationships for him/herself where it is understood that abstraction is an individual process that cannot be forced”.

Indirect Preparations mathematicsare found throughout the Montessori environment. “Indirect” simply means that the child is being prepared unconsciously. There are indirect preparations for language, mathematics, etc and preparations for one area of development can be found in all areas of the curriculum. The following example of indirect preparations for mathematics will demonstrate the variety, importance, diversity and ease with which the children gain the necessary skills to move forward.

Indirect Preparations done in Practical life:

  • A general evolution from non-sequential tasks, where the child has to go through certain steps before arriving at a desired goal, thus developing order and a logical sequence.
  • Development of concentration which leads the child to complete a full cycle of activity from beginning to end.

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Indirect Preparations of Sensorial Materials:

Sensorial materials help to prepare the child for mathematics by dealing with materialized abstractions, where the child experiences, at a sensorial level, many mathematical concepts such as:

  • Observation – developing the ability to observe and to notice small differences
  • Classification – putting things together based on specific relationships
  • Decimal system – sets of 10 in every piece of Sensorial Material gives the child the impression of the decimal system
  • Sequences – based on the Sensorial Material’s usual and consistent arrangement, the child perceives an unconscious understanding of sequences
  • Expression – the child is given the clear language necessary to express observations
  • Measurement – weight, length, distance, quantity, volume are experienced through specific materials including: Bi-nomial cube and tri-nomial cube- algebra, Pink Tower- volume and cubing and Red Rods- linear counting.

mathematicsThe child works with the math materials in the concrete first and until the very essence of the rule becomes clear.

The Montessori Method works with these principles in mind:

  • Simple to complex
  • Concrete to abstract
  • Known to unknown

These principles follow the mathematics curriculum throughout elementary levels where children learn multiplication, long division, fractions, ratios, decimals, multiples, money, graphing, geometry, etc.

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