The world of Numbers
Numbers are the clue to the nature of the universe and the mystery of beauty.
We can’t do without numbers! We need them to unravel the mysteries of the natural world, to manage our daily lives; to be precise or to estimate and approximate.
Maria Montessori’s use of the term, ‘The Mathematical Mind,’ refers to the unique tendencies of the human mind, such as order, exactness, exploration, and orientation. She said:
“In our work, therefore, we have given a name to this part of the mind which is built up by exactitude, we call it the ‘mathematical mind’.”
Montessori designed her math materials to incorporate the natural capabilities of a child’s mathematical mind.
Children not only see and learn the symbol for a number, they hold the quantity in their hand. They evolve from the study of concrete mathematical concepts to understanding them in abstraction. With the help of specific materials, they begin to recognise the shapes, and names of numbers 0 to 9. Quantity is introduced and they relate the written number with its specific physical quantity. Children gradually become familiar with the Decimal System and gain a deeper understanding of how numbers function. Quantities of units, tens, hundreds and thousands are introduced. Having learned mathematical concepts through the use of concrete materials, children are prepared to work in abstraction with concepts such as fractions, key elements of geometry and other mathematical operations.
Using their hands, counting actual objects, feeling shapes and dimensions, all give children a three-dimensional understanding. Montessori fosters computational skills naturally, exposing children to not just basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) but paving the way for a strong foundation for the understanding of algebra, trigonometry and calculus. When they internalise this hands-on understanding and then work with a device or tablet, they have a multidimensional understanding and not just one on a flat screen.