A regular school day is never a regular school day at ILM. It is full of fun, learning, and awe. And the Thursday afternoon we’re talking about today was no different.

One of our 3rd graders, Manya strutted towards her teacher with a long paper that almost brushed the floor. It looked like a royal scroll bearing a much-awaited message! Soon Elham, Advik, and Muhammed did the same.

Manya’s magical math scroll

Manya’s paper had a very long multiplication problem. Elham attempted addition in her foot-long paper, while Advik and Mohammed tackled sheets and sheets of divisions. 

Advik and Muhammed’s sheets full of division problems

To the teachers at ILM, this isn’t uncommon. Our teachers see kids approach and tackle math problems with curiosity and wonder, not dread. At ILM, math wizards are not an exception, they are the norm. 

But here’s the secret on how kids at ILM do it…

Build a Strong Foundation:

Using the Montessori method, we strategically build a strong foundation that helps prime children to tap into their innate curiosity to tackle big problems. The Montessori method involves working with interesting materials that help children grasp math concepts with clarity and ease.  One such is the stamp game!

ILM Students demonstrate the stamp game

A core principle of the Montessori method is that children learn better when they get hands-on experience. Montessori materials allow children to employ all their senses and work independently at their own pace. 

These materials are not toys. Calling them toys will likely upset many Montessorians. They are specially designed materials used all across the world. The Montessori materials carry a kernel of learning in them, each acting as a sophisticated, physical material of abstract concepts. By working with these materials, children uncover and learn the concepts they represent.

Discovering Abstraction & Nurturing Innate Curiosity:
In the Montessori world, abstraction is the stage in a child’s development where the child moves away from learning materials and towards abstract concepts in subjects like Maths. 

While using the Montessori materials, there comes a point where the child extracts and separates the concept from the physical material and holds that as an abstract concept in their heads.

During each stage of learning a different Montessori material is employed to teach the child. Each material helps the child grasp the concept while peeling away the concrete layers and thus leads them to abstraction –the stage where the child holds these concepts in their heads without the help of materials. Slowly but surely the child moves away from materials and toward abstraction. 

Each child has their own pace and this material allows them to explore concepts at that pace and make the self-discovery instead of being passive recipients who are taught this concept in the traditional way. 

The journey to abstraction using the materials is an important one. It helps the child grasp concepts more thoroughly. Research backs that the Montessori approach to education helps children perform better at school, and in social settings, and kids show overall greater achievement in all aspects compared to their traditional school counterparts. 

 Elham’s journey towards abstraction

What makes the child move towards abstraction?

Children have an innate curiosity and desire to learn, explore, and take on bigger tasks. They aren’t sated by that which is rote, passive, and easy. Part of what makes them feel ‘grown-up’ is tackling a task that is bigger than them. Small tasks don’t excite them them. A good example of this we see every day is how so much of children’s play involves make-believe games imitating adults.

The Role of Adults in Teaching: 
Montessori adults offer the concepts with the help of imaginative stories, materials, demonstrations, work charts, impressionist charts, timelines, experiments, and a lot of illustrations. Children follow up on their activities, giving them enough choice, allowing them to explore, and experiment by giving freedom and not imposing ourselves on them. We give them what is needed and sufficient so that they live life in the second stage to the fullest. 

At ILM Montessori, we respect a child’s freedom and pace, assisting them in their journey towards abstraction. This empowers them to find answers and enriches the process of daily learning. We believe our role as facilitators (teachers) extends far beyond the classroom and ages of 2-6. The Montessori method aims to help kids uncover the ‘why’ of things which is what we need to instill a love of learning. 

 “The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intellect as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim is not merely to make the child understand and still less to force him to memorize. Just to touch his imagination to enthuse him to his innermost core.”  
From, ‘To educate the human potential’ -Maria Montessori