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Montessori Theory: The Key Concept of Concrete to Abstract


Montessori’s Theory emphasizes one key concept that has revolutionized the way children learn – the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. This approach involves immersing children in hands-on experiences with real objects before moving on to more abstract concepts and ideas.

By building a solid foundation of concrete experience, children are better equipped to grasp abstract concepts, which in turn strengthens their problem-solving skills and fosters a love for learning. Montessori educators believe that this approach not only yields better academic outcomes but also helps children develop self-confidence, independence, and creative thinking abilities that will carry them into adulthood.

Maria Montessori wrote extensively about the Absorbent Mind and within this concept, she describes an approach called “concrete to abstract”.  This idea was the basis of her child development theory. A child is born into the world capable and she places a great deal of value and respect on the child’s ability to drive his learning and development.

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What is Montessori Theory: Concrete to Abstract

“A logical, developmentally appropriate progression that allows the child to come to an abstract understanding of a concept by first encountering it in a concrete form, such as learning the mathematical concept of the decimal system by working with Golden Beads grouped into units, 10s, 100s, and 1,000s.” (Source: American Montessori Society)

A child is born into the world already unconsciously gathering impressions from his environment. As a child approaches three years of age he continues to gather from his environment but in a different way. His inner drive now is to give order to the impressions.

We, adults, can help a child in the earlier stage by giving him many concrete opportunities to experience the world hands-on. Using his senses he will concretely take in the world. As he moves into the latter stage, he now begins to process abstractly.

So he takes these concrete experiences and turns them into more abstract ideas. His concrete work in the earlier stage literally” laid the foundation” for complex abstract ideas and thinking.

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