When I taught math back in California, the biggest hurdle I faced was not the different math levels of my students, it was the attitude over 80% of them had that math was to be dreaded. Think about it…what class do YOU remember fondly? (I bet it’s not Precalculus. ;)) By the end of the school year, my goal was to turn that number the other way and while I didn’t always succeed, I turned the tide more often by showing them how FUN math could be (“We are going to learn how to factor and it’s going to rock!”) combined with manipulatives to shore up their math skills and reduce their anxiety.

Little did I know how important the manipulatives part was. They didn’t understand why we carried a 1 when adding. They would look at blocks of ten and just see blocks, not units that can be manipulated into easier problem solving. So imagine my delight upon discovering that the Montessori method for mathematics is based on using more senses and working with base-ten materials, yes! Let’s dive in so you can see what our students are doing at Sunrise Montessori that allows them to learn true number sense while developing positive associations which creates future math success into Kindergarten and beyond!

**Montessori Math Curriculum + Manipulatives = Foundational FUN!**

Our math materials move from concrete to abstract, so our students can hold the material in their hand before recognizing that the picture of a symbol “3” means three objects grouped together. The Montessori method helps them to improve their mathematical proficiency, critical thinking skills, and problem solving skills to learn mathematics faster. (Source #3). They start from basics like learning how to count with red and blue number rods or spindle boxes to higher end concrete materials like the teen beads you see in the first picture above. They can count each bead, for example, by TOUCHING it and counting OUT LOUD. We encourage them to use their FINGERS. Fun and engaging, using all of their senses, which makes learning a blast.

**Math Materials x Varied = Future Learning Advantages**

We have multiple points in each material that help a child to learn, such as color, shape or texture. Sandpaper numbers are literally just that, the shape of a number (on a piece of smooth wood) that is rough to the touch so that we can show them how to recognize the symbol with their eyes AND finger, which eventually leads to learning how to write the number. Research shows that the more senses you activate, the easier the learning and recall later. The Montessori math work also uses the base of 10 over and over again, something they need to understand intuitively in order to move on to double digit numbers and multiplying. From the Pink Tower (10 blocks) to the Spindle Box (0 – 10) to the Golden Beads Cube of 1,000, they are constantly exposed to the concept and power of 10. By showing them HOW to manipulate numbers in different ways, our students are led to the same destination: true understanding of basic and more complex mathematical calculations. Like what? We show them WHY we carry a 1 when adding numbers. How a rod of 10 beads can be placed together with 9 other bead rods to form 100 total beads (look at the picture above) and how if you take 10 of those you have 1,000 beads (see golden bead tray above?…that cube is 1,000 beads). How many 5 year olds do YOU know who can add and subtract in the THOUSANDS? Or how to subtract fractions or divide? In a Montessori school, it’s a daily occurrence.

**Lead Teachers + (Montessori Training + Credential) = Vital to Success**

In a study conducted on an American Montessori preschool and a Montessori school in another country, the researchers discovered that the “…uneven quality of instruction might explain why the Dutch Montessori schools didn’t prove their superiority” because even though the “classrooms {were} full of Montessori materials, the teachers had no training,” (Source #2) Not all Montessori schools have proven they can deliver the goods. At Sunrise Montessori, we require new Leads to have earned a Montessori credential before being hired or go through a six month in-house credential program that includes training prior to leading a class. If the child doesn’t know what to do with the materials or aren’t guided into advanced applications, the materials don’t make much of a difference. Hearing from our past Sunrise families how advanced their child is in reading and math as they enter the elementary level is what we strive for, which all depends on having a lot of materials and a teacher who knows what the child is supposed to do with them.

If you ask a child at our school to show you a math material, they will likely glow with excitement as they pick out a tray and begin to explain what they are doing. How is the comprehension and positive attitude so well developed at such a young age? The solution is the balance of the Montessori method being applied with a *wide variety* of materials being guided by a *trained *Montessori teacher. Turns out, giving your child a superior education is as infinitely simple as picking an excellent Montessori school, which was a lot easier than convincing my Algebra students why finding the mysterious X is pretty rad. =)

**Sources:**

- https://greenspringmontessori.org/the-mathematical-mind/
- https://hechingerreport.org/rival-studies-shed-light-on-the-merits-of-a-montessori-education/
- https://m.scirp.org/papers/80795
- https://hollismontessori.org/blog/2018/3/19/montessori-basics-how-math-progresses-through-the-levels

*Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then **book a tour** on our website at **Sunrise-Montessori.com** or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!*

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