The Math curriculum in the Montessori classroom moves from the concrete, to introduce increasingly abstract concepts. Children understand the world, through the use of all of their senses, and by making use of this knowledge their understanding can develop to its fullest potential. The teaching of ‘arithmetic’ should “start with sense perceptions and be based on a knowledge of concrete objects”. (Dr. Maria Montessori)
As with all Montessori materials, the mathematics curriculum is based around each individual child using self-teaching and self-correcting materials. These materials are presented to the child as interest is expressed or observed and then the child may explore the materials repeatedly, until the concept is mastered. Small children naturally love repeating activities and can easily absorb the intended concepts.
In small sequential steps, each child develops their own mathematical mind at their own pace. During the day-to-day manipulation of concrete objects within the classroom, the child builds mental concepts of numbers and further refines the ability to concentrate. The presentation of the math materials follows a pattern of first teaching a quantity, then the symbol, then the association of the quantity and symbol.