
MATHEMATICS
By the time our children are ready to enter the world of mathematics, they have worked extensively in areas such as practical life, sensorial, and language, where they have refined their sense of order, concentration, coordination, and independence. For example, when the child is sweeping or pouring beans in exercises of practical life, he is working on three basic mathematical skills – exactness, calculation, and repetition. The smelling bottles develop mental analysis and an awareness of something that cannot be seen or touched but that is nevertheless real. When the child works with the knobbed cylinders, she is learning gradation. The color tablets and sound boxes develop discrimination of similar objects. The red rods develop a sense of ideal dimensions, and the geometric solids and geometric cabinet develop a sense of ideal forms. The innocent binomial cube is an introduction of (a+b)2 and the more complex trinomial cube is (a+b+c)3. Math is the science of sciences and the most abstract science of all. When a child is around 3 1⁄2, he becomes interested in comparing from his foundation in the sensorial material. Dr. Montessori calls this the “awaking of the mathematical mind”. When this sense is well developed, the directress begins introducing math.
Materials such as the number rods and the spindle boxes continue the sensorial processes of graded and sequenced series, and at the same time both mathematical quantities and numerical symbols can be introduced. Through the decimal system with the golden bead material, a child learns the transition from concrete to abstract, the goal being internalization of the concepts of mathematics. The child develops a growing perception of abstraction, coming to understand ‘one’ or ‘unit’. This is called the “method of variables”. Ultimately, the child refines precision, logic, and an ordered mind. You’ll begin seeing papers of arithmetic exercises. At this point, the child is still dependent on the equipment provided at the school, but imperceptibly your child will begin to internalize mathematical formulas like 3x2 and, when it’s introduced in fourth grade, will think everybody knows that.
If you want a quick study of more about Montessori mathematical material, ask for a set of our math lesson descriptions or study them from our website (www.greystonehouse.com). Not only will these describe for you the specific materials we use to teach the children, the lesson descriptions also tell you things you can do at home to capitalize on your child’s increasing interest in mathematical concepts.
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