The Montessori method can be very unnerving and annoying for me as a homeschooler at times.
I say this because we follow the child’s interests and not any pre-set curriculum (just a general guide), and at this young age, the child’s interests tend to be very focused on one or a few things for quite a long time before it swings almost completely to something else.
Z turns 3 in about a month and he has always loved language. We were progressing well and I purchased a movable alphabet to work on next. I thought he would be all over it, but he wasn’t and it kind of surprised me. We did some simple activities with it, but the learning wasn’t as fluid as before, and getting him to do the work took a lot more encouragement.
I was starting to get a bit annoyed as usual. This homeschooling business isn’t easy when you’re trying to figure out both the kid and the Montessori method at the same time.
Then I remembered that just a few days before we shopped for the movable alphabet, I observed Z reaching for the sandpaper numbers and tracing it. I was able to take a video of it and reviewing it was helpful because I could detach myself from any emotions and observe objectively.
If you watch the video, you’ll notice that nothing stops a Montessori child from reaching his favorite activity of the moment. It’s much like reaching for his favorite toy, except in a Montessori homeschool room (in this case our living room), he’s reaching for what he considers to be fun for him but all of us adults know it’s work. I digress, but isn’t that great?
Back to the story. So I figured his interests must have moved on from letters to numbers.
I’m usually very slow to create activities, but this time around I learned my lesson. Within a day, I swapped out his existing work for some new activities that revolve around numbers.
Math doesn’t typically begin until age 4 in Montessori (and by that I mean serious Math). From birth until then, we’re doing pre-Math all the time — singing number songs, counting 1-10 using cheerios on the infant’s high chair, doing one-to-one correspondence, etc.
I experimented with the spindle box for him, but he wasn’t getting the concept. This tells me that he’s not ready to move on to the “serious Math”. So to fuel the interest, I put together these activities instead that build on pre-Math, but adding in concepts where I feel he needs extra work.
1. Sandpaper numbers and wooden cut-out numbers in a tray. He continues his tracing work and he has the option to match the cut-out numbers to the sandpaper numbers if he likes.
2. Wooden puzzle with numbers. I actually rather like the snake version, because the numbers go from left to right, and the puzzle fits easily as long as the numbers are facing you which acts as a control of error. I also made a control card for him. I bought this because he still needs work and patience with puzzles.
3. Bingo game. I found this and thought it would be fun to put the numbers 1-10, see what comes out, and let him match it to a number strip. This week, I will experiment with a blank 1-10 strip to see how he does.
4. Numeral cards and counters. We’re only doing 1-5 for now, and this is careful one-on-one correspondence and placement. I might change this or create another activity where the number is on the left and the placeholders go from left to right, because we still need lots of left-to-right work to help with language.
5. Singing 1-20. (Not pictured) Z knows how to count to 20, but he often skips number 15 or 17, one of the teen numbers anyway. So I figured I’d make up a song to help break it down into chunks. It works! He loves it and is singing it as frequently as the continent song, he doesn’t skip a number anymore, and his articulation of the teen numbers are becoming crisper. That’s all I want at this point for teen numbers.
So what’s the verdict? I’m happy to say my observation was quite spot on! He loves all the pre-math activities and will work with them on his own free will from time to time.