Montessori mathematics in early childhood education
The Montessori movement recently celebrated a century of international education, spanning from early childhood through to tertiary experience. The first Casa dei Bambini, or children's house, was opened in Rome, Italy, on 6 January 1907, and within three years the influence of Montessori education began to reach New Zealand shores.
This article outlines the Montessori approach to early childhood curriculum in general, and discusses findings from a small research project examining mathematical concept development in children prior to school entry. Initial findings of the project indicate that the Montessori approach may have a positive impact on children's numeracy knowledge and strategies at age five.
This research arose from the involvement of the authors of this paper in the development and delivery of teacher education degrees at early childhood education (ECE) and primary levels that include a Montessori specialty in their final year. Our experience in sharing both the Numeracy Development Project and the Montessori mathematics curriculum has resulted in many discovery moments for our students. This has led us to suggest that wider understanding and dissemination of Montessori curriculum ideas may help to progress discussion on early mathematics development.
Chisnall, N. & Maher, M. (2007). Montessori mathematics in early childhood education. Curriculum Matters, 3, 6-28.