In the Montessori method, the progression of learning mathematics starts concretely and then progresses towards the abstract. Mathematical activities are not implemented at a designed pace, instead the activities allow children to grow at their natural pace. Initially, children are introduced to sequential work including understanding of numbers through ten. Once this understanding is gained, children progress to the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, leading to more advanced mathematical concepts.
Within mathematics, each layer of material is built upon the previous one. It is important to enable the children to set their own learning pace. Children initially manipulate materials through their senses to build a concrete foundation before they are able to think abstractly.
Introduction to mathematics begins with the “Basic Five’ Montessori Materials. These consist of:
- Number Rods
- Sandpaper Numerals
- Spindle Boxes
- Smooth Numerals
- Cards and Counters
These basic five materials create the foundation for the remainder of the mathematic materials and they are integral in teaching mathematical concepts. Once the children have mastered to concept of quantity and can associate the numeral (symbol) to the number (amount), other math concepts are then introduced including:
- Introduction to the Decimal System
- The concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
- Linear counting
- Skip counting