The Joy of Math

Jenny Thompson, Parent Connections Coordinator – 

“If only I’d learned math the Montessori way as a child!”

That was a refrain uttered by Sunny Hollow parents at last Thursday’s parent education night, “The Mathematical Mind.” Parents worked with the concrete materials of the Casa and Elementary levels to understand mathematical concepts such as one-to-one correspondence, the decimal system, dynamic multiplication, and calculating the area of a circle. Sunny Hollow guides reflected on how concrete, hands-on, and beautiful materials call to children–they love working with them and making discoveries. They experience joy and excitement in learning mathematics.
The wooden hierarchical materials help Lower Elementary children (and sometimes older Casa children) understand the decimal system through hands-on exploration. The tiny green cube (barely visible) on the right is a unit. The remaining materials (from right to left) are 10 units, 100 units, 1000 units.
Another question parents asked was, “How can I support mathematics learning at home?” Here’s some advice from guides:
  • Read aloud children’s books about math and mathematicians. Suggestions below!
  • Work with children on practical applications of mathematics.
    • From the start when the child is an infant, create a predictable day and schedule so the child can develop a sense of order, which supports and develops the child’s mathematical mind.
    • Cooking and baking. “Let’s double the recipe. How many cups of flour?”
    • Counting aloud. With very young children, touch each item as you count it to help them develop an understanding of one-to-one correspondence between numbers and objects.
    • Measuring. “What size sandbox should we build? Let’s get the tape measure.”
    • Be playful around math applications and let your enjoyment come through. “I wonder how many ice cream cones our family eats in a year? Let’s figure it out!”
  • Encourage friendliness with error. There may be one correct answer in a math problem, but we strengthen our math skills by making mistakes and learning from them.
  • Encourage multiple ways to solve problems. There is no one right process. We need to encourage children to develop their toolkit of approaches.
  • Offer support for differing abilities. Just because someone is fast at math doesn’t mean that’s the only (or even best) way to be good at math. Slow and precise is valuable when it comes to solving mathematical problems.
Recommended children’s books:

Mathematical applications are all around us. May you bask in the joy your child experiences in math at home and at school!