Math: An important part of the Montessori curriculum and our life.

What is Math? Why do we need it? Is it required to pass tests or will we use it in daily life?

These are some of the questions people explore as they navigate the world we live in.

Math is everywhere… in all facets of life.

From counting how many fingers we have on our hand to how many place settings to prepare at the dinner table to measuring ingredients for baking to counting the cash to pay for an item ….. Math is everywhere and there is no escaping it.

Math helps build analytical skills and strengthens reasoning ability & problem solving skills.

It helps give us a sense of order and prevent chaos in life.

Most of the basic math skills required for daily life can be learnt in the early childhood or initial years of schooling.

How to introduce “Math” to young children?

  • Talk about Math thoughtfully and beneficially.
  • Encourage sorting and categorizing
  • Count everything
  • Explain the concept of “nothing”
  • Encourage tons of “1:1 correspondence” activities
  • Have a sense of order in daily routine

Rote counting

Rote counting refers to a linear form of counting. It helps the child make sense of the world around us and find out how many of “something”. They count everything from how many cheerios they ate at breakfast to number of buttons on the shirt to how many steps to their room and so on.

Over course of time, with consistent practice, children understand the guidelines of counting. One of the most critical principles of “counting” is 1:1 correspondence.

1:1 Correspondence

It refers to an idea that ” number” corresponds to “specific quantities”.

No matter what is being counted, a “specific” number will always refer to that same “precise quantity”.

Why is 1:1 correspondence important?

1:1 correspondence is a precursor for almost all math concepts. So, if a child is not well developed with this 1:1 correspondence, they will struggle with basic math concepts- which are then foundation for advanced math concepts.

Steps to teach “Math concepts” with the Montessori Method

1.Presentation of Quantity

2.Presentation of Symbol

3. The Association of Quantity and Symbol

A child should be introduced to a wide variety of association activities like shown above to internalize the concept of 1:1 correspondence and be ready for basic & advanced math operations.

What are the broad categories of Montessori Math materials?

1.Number rods, Sandpaper numerals, Spindle box, Introduction to Color beads, Cards & Counters: Teach the basic concept of quantity, symbol and association; Odd and even; numbers tracing.

2. Introduction to Golden beads, 45 card layout/Global view introduce the concept of place value, decimal system and making big numbers

3.Teen boards and Tens board introduce the concept of numbers 11-19 & 20-100 respectively using the decimal system and place value concept.

4. Bead chains: Short and Long chains introduce the concept of Skip counting; square and cube of a number and helps prepare for Addition & Multiplication.

5. Stamp game, Strip boards for Addition and Subtraction; Multiplication and Division boards teach the concept of Math operations

6. Clock, Fractions and Currency studies are also introduced in Montessori Math curriculum.

What are the benefits of Montessori Math activities?

  • Hands-on
  • Sensorial materials introduced early on to the child helps prepare for Math
  • Engaging and inviting to the child
  • Follows a specific scope and sequence
  • Helps build on concept already taught to the child
  • Ensures success

Ways to encourage “learning Math” at home

  • Count everything
  • Involve children in setting snacks, help with food prep, baking etc which involves math concepts
  • Involve Math in daily conversations like “We can read 2 books tonight” or ” We can have ‘1’ sandwich” for snack today”. etc
  • Do the Calendar: Talk about how many seasons there are , how many months in a year, number of days in each month, specific date etc
  • Count toys when cleaning up
  • Use child’s favorite things like legos, shells, dinosaurs etc as counters
  • Involve Math in Art projects
  • Learn shapes and count their sides
  • Sing songs with numbers in them like “5 little monkeys jumping on the bed”
  • Teach the concept of “Measurement”- as its directly tied to Math
  • Sort and count coins
  • Make numbers with a variety of materials like nature, pipe cleaners, lentils etc

“Montessori believed that children were born with a ‘mathematical mind’, which she defined as a natural tendency for exactness, orientation and order, usually manifested in older children as capacity for logical, systematic thinking.”

Some Math facts & trivia

0 was called ‘cipher’ originally

One Googol is the number ‘1’ followed by ‘100 zeros’

‘Abacus’ is considered as the origin of the calculator

‘Forty’ is the only number that has all the letters used in the alphabetical order

Every ‘odd’ number has an ‘e’ in it

“The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics”