The following question posed by a NAMC student gives us pause to reflect on the Montessori philosophy that reminds us to follow the child. It highlights an issue that some parents new to the Montessori method raise at the beginning of their child’s elementary educational journey. It also provides Montessori educators with the opportunity to communicate and demonstrate the important philosophy that lies behind the method, and engage Montessori parents in the wondrous experience of their child’s individual development.
Math Tips and Multiplication Issues - Why Montessori Believes in Following the ChildA: Asking first grade students to memorize multiplication tables is developmentally inappropriate. Your Montessori students are doing exactly what they should and that is practicing math operations using the Montessori learning materials. Memorization of math facts takes time. The concept of multiplication must be understood and internalized using the Montessori materials. The Montessori math curriculum is designed so that the child is truly learning and owning each concept completely, which is different from memorizing. Memorization leads to forgetting as it utilizes only short term memory. True learning is established as long term memory.
I have worked with fourth grade Montessori students who did not have math facts memorized, yet understood the concept of mathematics and performed even complicated multi-digit multiplication and division operations successfully. The beauty of the Montessori math materials is that they do not rely on the memorization of math facts before a child can experience success. That would be like telling a child he can’t be read to until he can read independently. Eventually, all students will learn the math facts. But this is accomplished on the child’s unique timetable, not that of the parents or the teacher.
The NAMC Lower Elementary manuals are rich with activities that span the entire three-year curriculum.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.