Who was Maria Montessori?

Born 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy's first female physican, developed a unique educational approach that for nearly 100 years has been successfully applied to millions of children worldwide, starting with children with learning difficulties and extending today to children of all intellectual and socio-economic levels.

The Montessori method considers children to be intelligent and highly capable of learning when placed in an environment and with materials that provide them with respect and privacy. It includes three key elements:

  • Motor education
  • Sensory education
  • Language

The Montessori - ShillerMath combination helps children to learn math and language arts and to become productive members of society throughout their lives.

For more information on the Montessori approach, you may visit these informative sites:

An excellent book on the Montessori method is Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock. This is one of many books written for parents about Montessori that are available online or at your local library or book store.

The US Math Crisis

We have a math crisis in the U.S.

Maybe that's the least of our problems. But maybe not. Consider this:

  • 80% of US 8th graders cannot calculate fractions, decimals and percentages
  • 40% of US 4th graders cannot tell NE from SW on a map

It's really just us. The world does better:

  • In Germany 35% of teens take and pass advanced placement exams; in the US it's 4%
  • In Japan kids start algebra two years ahead of those in the US

What are the repercussions?

  • In the California State University system 60% of Freshman are required to take remedial math and science classes
  • One in five adult Americans cannot:
    • Calculate the total of a purchase w/tax & tip
    • Locate an intersection on a road map
    • Enter background information correctly on a form
  • MIT economist Lester Thurow says that only 20% of Americans have the work skills and education to be competitive in the global marketplace

And no one believes it! In a recent study 71% of high school parents say that they are satisfied with the math education their children are getting. Ouch.

The US has a math crisis. And the repercussions are serious. Join ShillerMath in creating better outcomes for our children and country.

The MultiSensory Approach

Your child completes a lesson correctly - say it was a visual / writing lesson that requires looking at a picture and doing a simple calculation. And then the child successfully completed several drill questions on the same material. Does that mean your child has mastery and a full foundational understanding of the topic covered?

The problem is that this lesson and drill only reached 30% of the child's brain. The other 70%? Not getting this concept.

The 30% that was reached was the visual part of the brain: the neurons from the retina. What about other neurons? Consider for example, if the student was given the opportunity to approach the problem in another lesson with his or her hands ("tactile"). The neurons in the fingertips that sense pressure and temperature reach a completely different part of the brain. Imagine that a second lesson imparts the same concept to the student from a tactile perspective. Now 50% of the brain is in use - and connections between the visual and tactile parts of the brain are made, creating a foundation or web of knowledge that lasts much longer and better supports future learning.

Imagine four lessons on the same concept - one each for Visual, Tactile, Kinesthetic, and Auditory neurons. Now the child's brain is being engaged 100% - to its fullest potential - and connections are rampant. Only then will a child truly have mastery.

A building constructed on only 30% of its foundation won't get very tall until it topples over. That's why the USA 3rd graders score well on international tests but 15 year olds don't: Because they're being taught to use only 30% of their brain.

The four main senses:

  1. Visual. Neurons from the retina.
  2. Tactile. Neurons from the fingers and skin.
  3. Kinesthetic. Neurons from muscles. The thighs, abs, and shoulders are the largest muscle groups. By using these muscles (throwing a ball or otherwise physically moving the body) a completely different part of the brain is involved - one that is nearly always missing from math and language arts curricula.
  4. Auditory. Neurons from the ears. Different materials make different sounds. And songs cause the brain to be involved in unique ways.

Without a complete multi-sensorial experience children lose the richness that comes from absorbing the same material from all the senses: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, and Kinesthetic. Only then will a student form a rock solid web and foundation of knowledge and ability.

Whether your child is gifted, ASD or normal, is a current or former Montessori student, or not, is a pre-K student or in junior high, make sure that the math and language arts programs for your child includes a multi-sensorial approach like the one used by ShillerMath.