Montessori approach to teaching math focuses on putting concrete objects in to the children’s hands in order for them to experience abstract concepts through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experiences, rather than just a verbal explanation that is too difficult for their young minds to understand.
The math materials isolates one concept for the child to absorb. The materials are hands-on and concrete and represent all types of quantities, which the child is free to manipulate as he or she counts. The child not only sees the quantities for 1, 10, 100, etc., but he or she can hold them in his or her hand. Later, the child is shown the written symbol, or number, for that quantity. This process allows the child to develop a clear inner image of mathematical concepts that may otherwise seem too abstract. After years of working with these materials, as the child moves toward more abstract thinking, the knowledge becomes second nature.
When the child is ready for mathematical operations like addition, he/she can actually perform the operation with the concrete materials. There are a variety of materials the child can use for the same operation. These activities not only maintain the child’s interest, but allows for much repetition. In this way, the tables are memorized and the child gains a true understanding of the operation. The Montessori approach also allows children to apply their knowledge in real-life: children are encouraged to use their newfound math skills while helping out with cooking, shopping, or working outside.