Ok ok, probably not the most thrilling topic to choose right out of the gate for 2023. BUT that’s precisely why I thought I’d tackle it first. It’s a subject that for many (myself and my 4th grader included) can bring about eye rolls, deep sighs, bewilderment or even tears.
But let me nerd out for a moment on the Montessori method for presenting math and why I've come to love it so much.
Maria Montessori believed that children are both naturally inquisitive AND naturally mathematical. So she constructed a methodology of teaching math in a fun, hands-on way that helps students move from concrete to abstract. Physical items, like wooden blocks or colored bead manipulatives are used as stair-steps to learning to solve equations with paper and pencil. This builds excitement towards math in young kids because they are invited to touch, feel, sort, weigh, and arrange beautiful materials to create order, sequence and logical arrangements. In short, the Montessori method of math is fun, exploratory, hands-on learning at its best!
To grasp the number 5, a child may hold 5 small objects. They may feel the weight of 5 things in their hands (vs 2 or 10) and then sort the individual components. They may line up 5 number rods, sorting them by length. They might be invited to weigh 5 things, trace the number 5 in a salt tray or feel it using sandpaper numbers. Eventually, they begin to connect what the abstract number 5 represents.
Thoughtful, beautiful math materials aren’t reserved for just the classroom though. They are great tools to have around at home! And even if you don’t fully subscribe to the methodology or want to spend money on wooden items or manipulatives, presenting and practicing math concepts in a tactile fashion can encourage more play and joy-infused learning...A very welcomed thing for many of us homeschool moms!