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Montessori Education – Misconception: “The Learning Process from Concrete to Abstract”

Author: Hong Kong Christian Service (Early Childhood Education Service)

The Montessori theory emphasizes a key concept in early childhood learning: the transition from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. Children start by experiencing the world through concrete, hands-on activities and then move towards more abstract concepts and ideas. By establishing a solid foundation through concrete experiences, children can better grasp abstract concepts, enhance their problem-solving abilities, and cultivate a love for learning.

In Montessori education, children use concrete materials to master concepts such as big, small, light, and heavy. For example, in the sensory area, children can touch and feel the pink tower, a set of cubes arranged from large to small. In the mathematics area, they learn the relationship between numerical symbols and quantities by using number rods and counting chips. By physically engaging with these concrete materials, children understand abstract concepts.

In daily life, parents can provide children with numerous concrete opportunities to experience the world, thus helping them grasp abstract concepts in the early stages. For example, parents can take their children to supermarkets to introduce them to different types of fruits and vegetables. At home, they can use various objects to teach concepts like counting, arranging, and size. Through their senses, children can gain a concrete understanding of the world around them. As they progress, they begin to process abstract information.

In the current era of smart electronic technology, learning methods have become diverse. There are convenient electronic learning platforms available for children, and teaching materials often contain multiple learning elements. However, do these truly meet the inner needs and learning motivations of children? Montessori education recognizes the absorbent mind of children and aims for children to concentrate on mastering one abstract concept at a time. Therefore, the learning goals of Montessori materials are specific, such as using red rods to learn length or brown stairs to learn thickness. Higher-level concepts are introduced gradually after children have mastered the basic ones, following a sequential progression.

Children’s learning begins in our daily lives. Parents should carefully observe and amplify the opportunities for children to experience things firsthand. It is important to put down our smartphones, focus on growing and learning together with our children, and embrace the joy of life.

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Montessori Education - Misconception: "The Learning Process from Concrete to Abstract"