Children between the ages of 0 and 6 are more impressionable than you think. As a Montessori teacher of young minds for over 10 years, I know that these little minds are like sponges that soak up everything around them. Believe it or not, little children can learn the concepts of basic mathematics quite easily. The key is to let them learn through the use of tactile equipment that they are able to touch with their hands. Therefore, they learn through their hands, which activates certain parts of their brain.
Magnetic Ten Frame and Counters
This exercise works so well as the magnetic ten frame is large and structured into 10 segments. The counters are divided into 5 different colors – red, orange, yellow, green and blue, and are very large, so that they are fun and easy to handle. It also comes with corresponding dice. This exercise comes with wonderful cards so that you can work slowly with the children and so that the older children can do the exercises by themselves and they can also teach the younger children. Therefore, the exercise becomes autodidactic, as they learn on their own. The cards become more and more challenging and the children will get excited as they finish each card and progress to the next one. This covers addition and subtraction. Once they have mastered this exercise, they can move onto other exercises that include multiplication and division – but only after they are able to master addition and subtraction.
Colored Wooden Number Rods
This is the first step in teaching children mathematics. You will start by getting a colored rod that is blue or red and teach them that it represents the number “1.” Afterwards you will have a longer colored bar which is painted blue and red. You will then teach them that the red color represents “1” while the blue represents “2.” This goes on and on until you get a bar divided by blue and red colors reaching “9.” That’s where to begin.
After the children learn the concept of numbers and see that they have been divided into different colored segments, come the actual numbers so they can see what “1,” “2,” or 3,” (and so on) actually looks like. This is where they feel the different sandpaper numbers with their fingers. Once they feel a number, they must call it out, such as “1.” After learning these numbers, they then take them and add them to the colored wooden bars, so that the numbers represent the divided segments.
You might think, how on earth do you teach a little three-year-old geometry, but it is easier than you think. All geometry begins with three dimensional objects. Once you teach a child that a “ball” is actually a sphere and a “tin of cola” is actually a cylinder and a “large triangle” is actually a square based pyramid, there is no end to how many more shapes they will discover in the natural world and even in the garden! Once children have mastered three dimensional geometric shapes, they can then move onto two-dimensional geometry in the form of geometric puzzles where they learn the names of different triangles, such as an obtuse-isosceles triangle or equilateral triangle.
It is amazing what you can do with beads when teaching children mathematics. Of course, they can learn that each bead added to another bead creates a higher number (addition), and each bead taken away creates a lower number (subtraction). Once they know how to do this, you can use the beads to teach them multiplication and division by grouping beads together and multiplying, as well as dividing them.
Mathematics should be fun! It builds necessary logic skills that should not only be developed once a child enters elementary school. Children love absorbing new skills, and by teaching them mathematics when they are so young, they become more curious and knowledgeable about the world. So have fun using all the above tactile equipment to open the minds of the beautiful young children you teach or are a parent to!