A great unconscious power is at work in the developing child which aids her in ordering her own impressions into relationships to create the foundation of her intellect. This earliest development of mathematical understanding is the work of the unconscious mind in classifying and categorizing perceptual impressions. What Dr. Montessori discovered was that the young child has a mind that is mathematically inclined in its approach to ordering perceptions.
The mind of the young child makes inferences extracted from the physical world around her. These impressions are generalized in the mind and go beyond physical reality. The process of the intellect creates abstractions based on inference. This action is the mathematical mind at work, creating concepts beyond reality and ordering them into relationships.
The understanding of the child’s mathematical mind plays a key role in the approach and curriculum in the Children’s House. Experiences are structured to appeal to the child’s natural urges to explore through her senses the immediate world of the here and now. Sensorial activities provide the opportunity to hone discrimination and appeal to the mathematical mind in her orderly isolation of sense experiences. This builds impressions which provide the grist for language to develop and express the abstractions of the physical properties the child has generalized from her experiences. As the child masters this language of precision she is able to manipulate symbols, and discovers the process of writing mathematically. This leads her to early understandings of the algorithms and the expressions of mathematical concepts.