*****Please note I am not a Montessori expert. My understanding of Montessori comes from my limited research. You can see a list of my references at the bottom of this post. I would love to hear about your opinion and experiences in the comments or email me! I hope to readdress this topic in the future once my knowledge has increased.
" Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core."
- Dr. Maria Montessori
In the early 1900s Maria Montessori studies into childhood and development led her to believe that a child does not have a “ready-made” brain, and that therefore information cannot simply be poured into this mind. That a child must actively learn knowledge in order for the knowledge to be retained and the mind to grow. Montessori noted that this learning in a child occurs primarily through the senses and that there were stages of development.
How does this translate into learning mathematics? The child is exposed to mathematical ideas daily from a young age. The abstract ideas of number, pattern and shape are first explored through manipulatives (similarly to the Charlotte Mason method). Montessori applied the idea that through manipulating real objects the mathematical mind learns to estimate; quantify; identify similarities, differences and patterns; to sequence; and to correct error. Therefore leading to an internal order from which to apply precise mental reasoning.
Once again homemademath will sit nicely along side a Montessori education. In HMM manipulatives are used to explore ideas through engaging purposeful activities. My aim in the activities is to give young mathematicians a beautiful and concrete understanding of the mathematical concepts that will inspire them into further practice of these ideas. And importantly, HHM takes into account the individual- while examples of how you may solve problems are provided, the main idea of each activity is to provide a topic of exploration in which the student develops their own method to solve the problem based on their own reasoning and experiences. Language is also valued highly in HMM with important language highlighted at the beginning of each activity and a glossary provided so that terminology is used correctly.
What will this look like in your home?
I would recommend continuing with other Montessori mathematics alongside homemademath. I see it as a complimentary activity rather than a Montessori curriculum. However Montessori “classrooms” are already beautifully decked out with manipulatives, these objects can be used throughout HHM activities. Simply substitute the manipulatives your child already uses into the list of items required at the beginning of each activity.
Your child’s senses will be enticed with these beautiful activities. homemademath is not a list of equations but an invitation to be creative while exploring mathematical concepts. HMM is designed with the aesthetic in mind to appeal to children who may otherwise find mathematics dull and unengaging. This includes, but is not limited too, drawing maps, designing quilts, drawing patterns, and making scale models.
homemademath also includes Practical Life Exercises such as cooking and building. The Montessori method sees children learn though these practical exercises as they fill a child with a real sense of purpose. These types of exercises are useful in mathematics as they demonstrate the need for precision in mathematical computation.
What you may not find in line with the Montessori Method...
homemademath does require a fair level of guide interaction. It is designed so that a beautiful mathematical activity will be launched from your reading, and that the guide will interact with the student as they progress through the activity. The guide is necessary for setting up the activity and explaining it purpose. I want to point out that this doesn’t fit within a pure Montessori education (as I understand) where the optional tasks are presented to the student, and that through these self contained tasks the student is able to work independently through the task.
While HMM does intend for the mathematician to develop their own methods and eventual independence, the activities themselves are probably too complex to simply leave to the child to work on for themselves. Of course you may find that with your child this is not the case, but I want to be clear on this to avoid disappointment. Have a look at some of my free activities here on the blog to decide if HMM may suit your schooling environment.
Do you use Montessori methods in your home or classroom? Have you tried any homemademath activities? Did you find them useful? Did it fit in with your educational philosophy? Please let me know!
PS Next week we will break from this series on educational methods to launch a new Charlotteʼs Web unit, with a free activity.