It may be because mathematics is not an opinion that many children and even many adults end up detesting mathematics. It leaves no escape or space for discussion, it is an overwhelming certainty that can reassure but also frighten. How to teach children numbers? To help our little ones to quickly become familiar with numbers and calculations, let us rely on Montessori method which has the great advantage of bringing everyone to concreteness. Often with mathematics there is a strong need, especially in the first moment of approach.
Just by keeping our feet on the ground we can discover useful methods to count or learn the times tables, even to understand the Pythagorean theorem. Maybe some adults are interested and it is always good to keep the reasoning alive. I remember well my grandfather who, in order to remain lucid as much as possible, despite his age, spent at least an hour of his day doing 4 or 5-digit divisions on the edge of newspapers, by hand, with the classic method that is taught in elementary school.
How to teach children numbers: the basics
First, the numbers. Number is an abstract concept, in fact. Who told us that three is three and that two is two? To transmit it, it is very important not to explain it in words but to show it. What is three, what is five, and so on. A row of objects in front, or drawn, to begin to become familiar with this abstract concept that, like it or not, will accompany us throughout our life. In my opinion, drawing is more effective because you are active and represent the concept of number, from scratch, with your own hands.
The idea of number can be combined with that of length and whoever is about my age or a few years older certainly remembers the ruler, a great game, so colorful. This set of colored parallelepipeds of different sizes have for years helped us to understand the link between a number, a graphic sign, and the length of a certain strip. Understood that, we can continue with the distances, always useful, too after 18 years, for the driving license. In the absence of a ruler, we can use rods or sticks and playfully identifying the longest and gradually the shorter ones. It is a way to apply comparison, the concept of major and minor, and therefore also of numbering and quantity.
When you learn the concept of number, you are also ready to count. Just some objects placed on the ground, and a little patience in counting the units together with the child, putting the objects one by one aside. At the end, a label of the final result is put on to associate an abstract, graphic sign, the five, with a concrete and certain concept.
Counting, we get closer to the idea of sum, but what about divisions? In this case the Montessori method suggests the use of a tool called a board. It is a square base with 81 holes where the numbers from 1 to 9 are written, which are the children to whom we have to distribute various quantities of objects. We have at our disposal maximum 81 beads, we take a certain amount each time that will be divided by a certain amount by placing them on the board, in a row. This exercise is by no means trivial and must be repeated over and over again. Only with a lot of practice, the concept of division will be implemented but it is worth insisting because we all know how essential it is.
How to teach children numbers and math
Things are getting complicated because now we have to learn how to teach times tables. Also in this case we are helped by specially designed materials, not by Montessori but by Dieter Kaul, Austrian Montessori trainer. We can also build them with our hands, taking a wooden circle with 10 nails inserted on the edge and knotting a thread on the first nail.
We start from the table of two, then we count two nails clockwise and then we turn the thread around the nail we find, then two more and again the thread and so on going from four to six to eight. You can do it with any number and every time you get them geometric figures very fascinating that can help the child not to get too bored and anticipate the importance that mathematics has in art and geometry.
Another very difficult obstacle is that of Pythagorean theorem. "In each right triangle the area of the square built on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares built on the legs". Once again, to convey this concept we must make it concrete and we use cut out shapes with which we can compose different areas and understand equality. By fitting together the various pieces whose squares we break up, the child touches firsthand that the two squares become the other square, the one built on the hypotenuse.
How to teach children numbers: games and books
Fantasy can do everything but it is not a crime to help yourself with books and games, precisely because there are many that are also very effective and intelligent. Let's start with a wooden game, perfect for learning times tables. Then there are magic boxes full of math games and finally a book with 99 math games, very colorful and captivating.