This program builds up the preschooler’s foundation in Math. It is a very hands-on approach to learning Math.
The approach to implementation of Math education in our classroom begins with a three-period lesson which is the hallmark of Montessori education. It is a fundamental approach to introducing any new material, vocabulary or a new concept to the child for the first time before he starts using them in an activity. Sandpaper numerals are introduced to children through a three-period lesson. The teacher traces as she pronounces the number and encourages the child to do the same.
The Math exercises are categorized into six groups and the advancement of the child from one group to another depends on factors such as age and the quantum of practice and level of mastery the child has achieved working with exercises within the previous groups.
Group 1 introduces the child to numbers one through ten. The large wooden rods, spindle boxes and cards and counters help to reinforce the names of the numbers in association with their quantities and written symbols.
Group 2 introduces the child to the Decimal System. The bead materials and the associated cards for each category (units hundreds, tens and thousands) focus on the hierarchy and the functions of the decimal system.
Group 3 includes Linear and skip counting within 11 to 99. Teens and tens boards are used to demonstrate linear counting in association with the golden beads that represent quantity along with their numeral symbols. The child is also introduced to the colors of each individual bead bar which is important for future exercises.
Group 4 includes decimal operations involving addition, multiplication, subtraction and division sums using golden beads with small and large number cards. The concept that ten units can be changed to a ten bar, ten-ten bars can be changed to a hundred and ten hundreds can be changed to a thousand is the central idea behind these operations.
In Group 5 the child is at the intermediate stage of progression towards abstraction. The exercises give the child the opportunity to explore essential number combinations within the family of 10. Use of mathematical ideas to solve problems with small number rods and the snake game teaches the child about number bonds. The child also learns to record his answers while doing operations with short bead stairs and boards.
Group 6 focuses on the exploration of individual sums in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as the memorization of tables through practice. These children are old enough to progress into the abstract representation of the concrete materials. The exercises in the group allows the child to work more with the symbols on paper, using control cards to check their answers.
This cognitive teaching approach based on a well-prepared environment, scientifically designed materials and systematic grouping of exercises form the mainstay of the Montessori curriculum that set them distinctively apart from traditional curriculum. It is very common to hear parents of children from conventional classrooms complain that their children have acquired a distaste for Math. Montessori children on the contrary have the opportunity to see the ‘why they are doing what they are doing’ of math in its most concrete form at a very early age. By doing so they encounter a feeling of free choice. Another advantage is, since young children are instinctively drawn to order, the math curriculum provides them the expression of order in abundance. This makes their journey of learning fun and pleasurable.
Montessori Math strengthens the child’s problem solving, decision making and critical thinking skills. It provides an all-rounded holistic development to the child and thus fulfills his social need for functional knowledge, logic and reasoning. The materials also present sensorial experiences that prepare the child for geometry and algebra concepts needed at the primary school level.