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2 min read

Children are naturally drawn to foundational math skills - sorting, ordering by size, pattern recognition, etc

They are naturally curious, little scientists, eager to learn about the world.

So teaching basic numeracy is really not too hard - with practice.

Here's how Montessori educators teach counting and number symbols.

START HERE - One-to-One Correspondence

In the toddler classroom, teacher's begin by introducing children to one-to-one correspondence.

You can also easily do this at home.

One-to-one correspondence is when you count each object in a set once, and only once, with one touch per object, ensuring that no item is left out or counted more than once.

This concept is crucial for developing accurate counting skills and lays the groundwork for more advanced math concepts.

Here are some examples of how this is taught in the classroom:

1. Sorting Objects into Slots:

Children are provided with an equal number of objects and slots. The child puts one object in each slot, learning that one slot = one object. You can do this at home with a muffin pan and 12 objects.

2. Setting the Table with a Montessori Placemat: 

You can buy a placement like this one or print and laminate this printable one.



Children set their tables and learn that the outlines indicate where each one of the place setting items go.

One outline for a fork = one fork, one outline for a spoon = one spoon, etc. 

3. Counting: 

Once your child understands one-to-one correspondence, number symbols can be introduced.

This can be done with Montessori Math materials, like the Spindles Box and Cards and Counters for children 3 years+. 

These materials provide the child with a visual of the number symbol to match the quantity.

You can make similar versions of these Montessori Math Materials at home. You can also simplify them for younger children.

This Visual Counting Printable is perfect for the home.

Count everything!

During this period of learning - count everything!

In the classroom, children would count things like:

  • how many cheerios they have in their bowl for snack
  • how many chairs there are in the room (one for each child)
  • how many shoes on their feet, etc.

Once you start, it’s easy to develop the habit of integrating counting into play and everyday activities.

In the toddler years, learning math skills should be fun. Keep it light.

For more ways to develop early math skills (besides counting and number symbols), this blog post from last year has even more activities: The Montessori Approach to Teaching Math

"Teach By Teaching"...

What’s important to remember when teaching children math skills is the Montessori motto "teach by teaching, not by correcting."

If your child touches an object more than once or skips numbers, it’s okay.

Simply repeat the activity over and over again until your child figures it out.

This is why materials like sorting trays and placemats with outlines can be so helpful, the materials will automatically correct the child, eliminating the need for adult intereference.

For example, if the activity is sorting 12 pom poms into a muffin tray, the child will know they made a mistake if there's one pom pom left over at the end or if they run out of pom poms before they reach the last cup.

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