Also how come when it comes to Primary school Mathematics, both students and teachers start getting worried?

I hated Maths as a child. But I always got average marks, never really failed the subject. Even took Statistics in my first years at University, that is a story for another day though. I passed the Statistics Exam. Yet I did the subject under duress!

Learning and Teaching Montessori Maths and now Training Teachers to teach Montessori Mathematics has helped me gain some insights into why Mathematics is such a contentious subject traditionally. Here is what I have found:

1. When you teach Maths start with the concrete. This is a basic Montessori principle anyway.

2. Start with counting, understanding quantities, one-on-one correspondences.

3. Take it one little step at a time and make sure they are logical steps

4. Do not rush the child.

5. Better they understand what they know, than they know lots of things they don't understand

6. Memorization is good, but it must come from a place of understanding.

So let's take each point one at a time for better understanding:

1. Start with the concrete: Use things children can see, touch and understand as a starting point. Now I know they can see number symbols, but they cannot understand them at the beginning. So in teaching numbers, first start with things they can actually count and show them how to count them. So I would bring small cars, balls, pencils, sharpeners etc and count them first. Not numbers first.

2. Count: start with counting these concrete things first, not learning numbers abstractly. Yes children can memorize they have great capacity to soak it all in. But really what is the use of knowledge that is not based on understanding? Count first, quantities, they will learn and understand the numbers this way.

3. Logical steps: Start with counting 1 car, 2 cars and 3 cars, let them do this themselves as you have shown them then ask them "Show me 1 car, Give me 2 cars, Can I have 3 cars please?" If they can do this then you make sets of 1, 2, 3 cars and ask them how many there are pointing to each set. It is only when they can answer correctly that you know they have gotten it and then move on to 4, 5 and 6, then 7,8 and 9. If your 2 year old can count sets of objects from 1 to 9 you are doing great, you can then show them how we write the numbers. So they can recognise the numbers. Use the same method of introducing and asking them to show you then name the quantities of the objects. After this they can start matching the numbers with the sets of objects. Logical steps will always win. Remember understanding is key.

4. No Rushing: We are not in a race here, these are basic building blocks that will enable the child to do lots of wonderful number operations in future effortlessly. Let them soak in the information and understand, children need the time to assimilate. So once again do not rush.

5. Understanding is key: People say that Montessori is slow. To me this is very relative. Understanding is more important that lots of crammed information not understood. Children can memorize numbers from 1 to 500, but if they cannot pick out five pencils from a bunch of 12 then that knowledge is basically useless. Let us be wise as we teach our children about numbers. Understanding is key.

6. Memorization of mathematics facts is needed, but this must come later when there is a strong foundation of understanding. Memorization when there is understanding is less of a chore. Let us not rush through the process. Slow and steady wins the race.

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