Montessori is an approach which many have adopted these days as a teaching method for children in preschool. The materials which they use create an environment that is developmentally appropriate for the children. Montessori believes that with the helped of trained teachers and the proper environment which the children are placed in, intelligence and different skills will be developed in the child (Casa Montessori, 1997-2009). In addition, one of the main aims of Montessori is develop children to become life long , independent learners. Instead of following the tradition teaching methods whereby teachers would present the students with all the facts and information that they need to know, the teachers trained in Montessori teaching would ask questions and direct the children in a way where they have to look for the answers themselves. In the learning process, the teachers would basically motivate the children to be actively engaged in their learning and to think independently (Seldin, 2010).
The basis of the Montessori approach is that learning through experience and going through the process of investigating and discovery is one of the most effective ways for a child to learn. Montessori also believes that children do not learn by memorising information given to them but from concrete experiences that interests them. This is why Montessori focus on different creating different developmentally appropriate concrete learning tools and materials that stimulates the child into logical thinking and discovery for subjects such as mathematics, sensory development, language and so on (Seldin, 2010).
With regards to mathematics, the Montessori approach sees sensorial training as a very important platform which aids in the learning of basic arithmetic. The wide variation of materials Montessori has to cater to mathematics allows children to familiarize themselves with numbers at an early age (Modern Montessori International, 2006). They focus on using sensorial materials because they are precise and exact. They believe that it is important for the children to work with materials that are exact and so that they can be exposed to isolated concepts, learn through repetition and from there draw the main principle of each and have a clear abstraction. All these concepts would help the child to order his mind and enable him to classify different experiences. This is because having a clear perception and the ability to classify things help the child to learn how to be precise in their conclusions. Working with sensorial materials prepares the children for the study of progression and sequencing as it builds up spatial representations of quantities and form imagines of magnitudes (Montessori Primary Guide).
Montessori believes that before a child can start learning mathematics, he or she must explore and accept the notions of idealized things with isolated qualities and to practice the requisite intellectual skills (Modern Montessori International, 2006). First of all, exposing the child to early sensorial activities is used to introduce the idealization of things and isolation of qualities to them. This is because allowing the child to work with sensorial materials gives them the opportunity to deal with isolated qualities physically and hence acquire the sensibility of what mathematics is all about. Secondly, the child must be introduced to the intellectual skills needed for mathematics such as exactness, calculation and repetition. Practical activities such as pouring beans into a jug or sweeping the floor can help children acquire such skills.
It is believed that when children reach age four, they are ready to start learning mathematics. However, prior to that, the children have to establish certain things such as internal order, precise movement, work habits, the child must be able to complete a work cycle, follow a...