How to develop a Mathematical Mind
Posted by Claire Aerdeman
Picture a 3-year old who proudly counts to 20 but hasn’t a clue that numbers represent quantity. Now picture a 3-year old who is helping to prepare dinner by counting each potato as it is peeled and then counts them again as each one is put in the pot. We need 6 potatoes. How many do we have? Counting objects by touching them establishes the relationship between number and quantity. Research confirms that human brains develop more fully with hands-on experience.
Children demonstrate their mathematical minds from birth, sorting and categorizing, what is me, what is not, who is mother, who is other, what is safe, what is unsafe. Through their toddler years as their vocabulary and dexterity develop, they learn to count their fingers and toes, a parent’s way to introduce the decimal system.
What other ways can parents enhance the development of a young child’s mathematical mind? Practice the language of comparison. After all, math is really that simple. It’s not mysterious or scary. Make it a game. This is a little truck. This is a big truck. Give me the big truck. Eventually extend to big, bigger, biggest.
Ambitious five-year olds love big numbers and want to count to 1 million. They are fascinated by the idea that numbers never end. Capture that enthusiasm by supporting their growing mathematical minds, “To infinity and beyond!”
Head of School
Math … Montessori way!
Posted by Claire Aerdeman
When parents observe my Lower Elementary classroom, I often hear the same idea expressed. “I wish I had learned math this way! Maybe I would like math more.” While I personally loved math, I often questioned why or how or who said so! I didn’t just want solutions; I wanted a true understanding. Maria Montessori’s materials and method provide just that.
So what makes Montessori math so different from traditional mathematics teachings? Maria Montessori was first a scientist before becoming a teacher. She spent years studying children and how they interacted with their environments and objects in their environments. From these studies she developed materials that allowed children to experience mathematical concepts with their hands. In The Absorbent Mind, Montessori states, “He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then in work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.”
In Children’s House, children experience mathematical concepts when using the red and blue rods, the brown stairs, the pink tower, the sandpaper numerals, the colored bead bars, and more. These materials allow the child to use his/her senses to begin to form concepts of quantity, number, size, length, weight, comparison, patterning and much more. The child uses beautiful, concrete objects to form abstract ideas. He or she goes “From the education of the senses to general notions, from general notions to abstract thought, from abstract thought to mortality,” quoted from The Montessori Method. In addition, as a child scrubs a chair, polishes, or scoops and pours, the child is indirectly developing concentration, problem solving, and spatial relationships as they carefully follow the steps to complete chosen tasks.
As the child enters elementary, pathways have been etched for mathematical thinking.
At this level, the hands and minds are busy with the golden beads, the stamp game, the bead frame, fraction pieces, bead chains, and more concrete materials than can be listed here. Through careful manipulation of concrete materials, the child works through addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, powers of numbers, and even algebraic concepts. The child moves from the concrete to more abstract thinking as they use these materials and begin to create their own understanding. Mathematics is also put into historical perspective with origin stories of numbers, geometry, and measurement that walk children through the history of math through various cultures so that they see math as an integral part of life. This connection is evident in middle school as they apply these skills to the creation of roller coasters, management of money in a business committee, budgeting and shopping to prepare meals for the class, and calculating water quality of a watershed.
Hands on, concrete, beautiful, engaging materials are what initially set Montessori math apart from traditional math. Your child and their discoveries with these materials are what truly make Montessori math different from all others!
Lower Elementary Teacher
Why Our Society Needs Montessori Education
Posted by Claire Aerdeman
Maria Montessori after World War II said, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”
One has to only turn on the news or open a newspaper to hear stories of murder, mayhem and carnage. These last few months, between the police shootings, the murders of policemen and the Nice attack, I have felt overloaded by the images of violence. But even more disturbing is that I am developing immunity to the virus of bloody images, I am growing less nauseous or tearful at what I am seeing on television.
Upon reflection, I realized that there is a message that is screaming at us. Our youth and young adults are unable to find peace within themselves, nor do they know how to resolve conflicts peacefully. Our education systems are not addressing the needs of the whole child, we are so concerned about grades and tests, that we have lost sight of what it is that makes us human. We have to be more that instincts and hate. We have to find an education system that teaches living in peace? Yes, Montessori is one proven education ideology that can be implemented immediately.
Peace education in Montessori is built on many things. Starting at Early Childhood, students are taught is to take responsibility for their actions and to resolve differences through words. As they get older students realize that peace means living in harmony with their classmates and with the world outside of them. As adolescents in Montessori, they are learning to find ways to be peaceful within themselves. They are learning about their challenges and strengths or “ogres and allies” and using allies to overcome their personal ogres. They need to know that they have a purpose and a place in society so they take action in the community. They needed to be grounded in hard work. Montessori students are learning that mistakes are learning opportunities to become better at what they are doing and it is a mastery-based program.
At Montessori High Schools, students are allowed opportunities to ‘self-construct” that is they have time in the day for personal reflection. Students are not afraid of conflict, internal or external. They embrace the chance to know themselves, are given tools to fight their inner demons as they are given to tools to fight external conflicts. Students learn over time what external conflicts they can handle and what they need an adult help with. They know that they have a purpose in life and that is to make a positive difference in the world.
There is a myth that Montessori means no structure or that is only for Early Childhood. In fact, Montessori High School students are getting in excellent colleges. They are embodying everything we want our youth to be. They are confident, self motivated individuals who know how to learn. They are students who you can be proud of, who can coexist with preschoolers and toddlers and who are leaders of the community.
Superintendents across the country should be reflecting on what education means for us as a society and consider Montessori.
Sunita Pailoor is the Director of Secondary Programs in Washington. She is an AMS certified Montessori teacher for elementary at Woodinville Montessori School and is currently pursuing an administrator’s credential through Houston Montessori Center. Sunita has a M.Ed from Plymouth State University, a B.S from Portland State University, a BA from Bangalore University in India. She also teaches adults at MEIPN, an AMS teacher training institute.
Source: Montessori Rocks!
The Spirit of Giving
Posted by Claire Aerdeman
Cultivating the spirit of giving in children at an early age is important because it fosters a sense of belonging and self-worth. Very young children want to help. Encouraging them in simple acts of kindness such as bringing mommy a diaper for the new baby or helping daddy wash the car validates their place in the family. So what if their actions are incomplete or imprecise?
Your appreciation for their efforts makes their hearts sing.
Encouraging young children to reach beyond themselves and care for others is essential for healthy social development. Parents want their children to have friends, to learn give and take, to reach beyond themselves. This takes practice. It’s not easy for young children to put others first.The situations you create for your child to care for others should be real. From little ones carrying a box of tissues to a sick sibling to big kids unloading groceries from the car, each act of kindness should be rewarded with genuine affection.
It’s important to explain to pre-school children why you go to visit a grandparent, or give money to a cause you value. The impression you make on tender young minds is validated by the actions that support your words.
When I hear of a 10 year-old forgoing birthday party presents and requesting contributions for a food bank instead, I know that the parents have thoughtfully developed a caring child who takes real pride in being a contributing member of society. The internal rewards are sustainable and help to develop social beings that can create a better world.
Winter Celebrations – December 20
Posted by Claire Aerdeman
- Children’s House annual Holiday Open House from 8:15 am to 11:30 am
- Lower Elementary Winter Breakfast from 8:30 am to 9:30 am
- Upper Elementary and Middle School Skating party from 10:45 am to 12:15 pm
- Upper Elementary and Middle School Band Holiday Concert from 9:00 am to 10:00 am