Early Numeracy through Manipulation of Concrete Materials
A 3 ½ or 4-year old child is fascinated with manipulating things, with patterns, and with small objects. He enjoys repeating activities, and exploring concrete items with his hands. Our Montessori math program builds upon this developmental phase: we introduce preschool children to the fascinating world of numbers through enjoyable activities, which are carefully designed to impart mathematical knowledge to our students.
By starting early, and drawing on the child’s natural interests, we enable our students to gain a head start in numeracy – and, more importantly, a confidence in their own ability to do math, and to do it well. Instead of the math phobias that many children acquire in elementary school, where arithmetic operations are introduced as abstract, mechanistic operations to be memorized even if not understood, our 6-year-old students master the basics of arithmetic using concrete materials, and they therefore acquire a grounded understanding of the meaning of these operations. When they leave LePort Montessori, our students have a double advantage: they have learned many mathematical concepts and math facts typically only taught in 2nd or 3rd grade, before they even enter elementary school – and they have learned to enjoy math.
When my daughter was five, she came home with five sheets stapled together. She was quite proud of herself and said, “I can add fractions.” I checked the sheets and, sure enough, she had completed five pages (each page had about 20 fraction addition problems). I asked her, “What does the red box around some of the equations represent?” Her reply, “they’re equivalent—they had to be reduced. Did you know that 4/6 is equivalent to 2/3?”