Maria Montessori’s use of the term, ‘The Mathematical Mind,’ refers to the unique tendencies of the human mind, such as order, exactness, exploration, and orientation.
Humans also have the unique abilities to imagine, create, and think abstractly. Montessori designed her math materials to incorporate the natural capabilities of a child’s mathematical mind.
“In our work, therefore, we have given a name to this part of the mind which is built up by exactitude, we call it the ‘mathematical mind.’”
– Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
All children have mathematical tendencies, and all children should be able to enjoy mathematical studies. Dr. Montessori proposed that the introduction of mathematics during the period of the absorbent mind (0-6 years) enables the child to form positive associations with numbers, which can be carried on throughout life. The key is to provide the child with hands-on experiences. For the young child, an explanation is not enough. Dr. Montessori wrote: “Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” Montessori demonstrated that if a child has access to concrete mathematical materials in his early years, she can come to her own understanding of abstraction concerning the concept. On the other hand, these same skills and facts may require long hours of laborious work if introduced later in abstract forms or simply asked to memorize.
Written by Marketa Traband, Children’s House Guide