Montessori math is worth the price of a Montessori education. That may sound like an outrageous claim until you consider how many children and adults are held back in life by the inability to solve everyday math problems. Montessori math is the best possible foundation your child can get for being comfortable and competent in the world of numbers.
Here are four factors that make this Montessori math miracle possible:
AN INGENIOUS SET OF MATERIALS THAT PROGRESS GRADUALLY FROM CONCRETE TO ABSTRACT.
In contrast to most other programs which introduce math in a rather abstract way, Montessori math begins with concrete materials and then slowly progresses toward abstraction. For example, Children’s House students learn about the decimal system with the Golden Bead material, which contains single beads for units, ten bars of beads for tens, a square of a hundred beads for one hundred, and a cube of a thousand beads for one thousand. Initially, children add or subtract big numbers with these beads, but over time other materials – the Stamp Game, the Dot Game, and the Small & Large Bead frame. These enable children to progress to abstract, paper-and-pencil math. Other materials solidify fractions, algebraic formulas, and geometric concepts, such as the Pythagorean theorem.
AN INSTRUCTIONAL SEQUENCE FROM LARGE NUMBERS TO SMALL NUMBERS.
In most math programs, children start with small numbers and slowly work their way up to bigger numbers. In contrast, we begin by introducing large numbers, all the way to 10,000 by age five or six, and all the way into the millions in the early elementary years. As Dr. Montessori observed, children are interested in big numbers, and big problems—and with the unique materials, we can harness that interest into advanced, early math accomplishments.
INDIVIDUALIZATION AND MASTERY IS THE FUNDAMENTAL APPROACH.
As children move on without understanding foundational concepts or automatizing key skills, they become less and less confident in math. In Montessori, we avoid this "swiss cheese" teaching that leaves holes in students’ math skills by making all of our instruction 100% individualized. We only introduce a student to more advanced math concepts after the earlier ones have truly been mastered. With our mixed-age classrooms, it doesn’t matter how long a child takes or how quick they may be. We will group them with others at the same level and provide as much additional support as needed to ensure they reache their full math potential.
AN EQUAL EMPHASIS ON MATH IDEAS AND HARD MATH SKILLS.
In Montessori, our students have daily math facts practice and time to thoroughly explore mathematical concepts with the Montessori materials. It’s why we motivate math fact learning by showing students how they can improve their speed and efficiency with the materials having recall of facts ("7×6 = 42"), instead of counting bead bars all the way up to 42. It’s why we have a multitude of materials that make learning math facts fun, rather than relying on stickers or other extrinsic motivators.