Reason, calculate, compare and estimate

Mathematical concepts at an early stage

Mathematical concepts at an early stage

Maths can be described as a way of looking at the world around us, it is a language which we use to express our understanding of measurable relationships within our experiences. The Montessori Method introduces mathematical concepts at an early stage, for children are seen as inherently able to reason, calculate, compare and estimate.

The first introduction to maths in a Montessori environment is in the Sensorial area where the children learn to classify, order, sequence, match, see differences and similarities, see relationships and make connections. These are the foundation skills which they refine in the maths area.

In the maths area:

  • concrete materials which can be touched, manipulated and moved are used to explore and understand mathematical concepts
  • materials give a clear understanding of numbers and quantities (order and sequence)
  • children are introduced to the decimal system and simple arithmetic functions
  • new concepts are gradually built upon those which have been previously acquired, e.g knowledge of units leads to the introduction of tens and then hundreds and thousands.
  • the complexity of tasks increases as children begin to gain concepts as part of their natural progression

Examples of materials used to develop mathematical concepts include:

  • Number rods – to learn and memorise the name and sequence of numbers 1-10
  • Sandpaper numerals – introduce child to symbols for numerals 1-9
  • Number rods and cards –  linking of concrete quantities with written symbols 1-10
  • Spindle box – introduction of ‘zero’; introduction of concept of numbers as a quantity of separate objects together
  • Teen board and beads – association of the quantity, name and symbol for numbers 11-19
  • Tens board and beads – association of the quantity, name and symbol for numbers 11-99
  • Hundred bead chain – consolidate linear counting 
  • Golden beads – develop an understanding of quantities and names of different categories of the decimal system; used to introduce maths concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.


The Montessori Method is designed to make the acquisition of mathematical knowledge fun and enjoyable.