The central purpose of the math materials in the early years is to lay the foundation for later cognitive development and to prepare for the gradual transition to abstract thinking. The primary value of these earlier activities in mathematics is found in the way exercises transform ideas into actions on concrete materials. Students who learn math by rote method often have not developed real understanding or the ability to put their skills to use in everyday life. Montessori students use hands-on learning materials that make abstract concepts clear and concrete.

The Montessori math curriculum is based on the European tradition of “Unified Math,” which has only recently been recognized by leading American educators. Unified Math introduces students to the study of the fundamentals of algebra, geometry, logic and statistics along with the principles of arithmetic. This study continues over the years, weaving together subjects that traditional schools normally reserve until the secondary grades.