From a very early age, children understand that to achieve a desired result they often have to practice. In the Montessori classroom, the children are encouraged to practice a variety of subject areas on a daily basis.
On a number of occasions, Montessori teachers have been approached on the topic of how children memorize vital information, for example their multiplication tables. We see in shops everywhere posters illustrating the ‘Times Tables’, even CD’s to play in the car on the way home, any way possible to pass on the information to children.
In the Montessori classroom, rote learning is avoided. It is highly unlikely to hear a classroom of Montessori children chanting the nine times table with the CD playing in the background. However, Montessori children at the age of five may choose to work with the bead chain of nine. They would carefully carry and lay out the bead chain. They would count from one to 729 labeling each multiple of nine as they make their way along the chain. Not only are they skip counting and laying down the foundation of multiplication, but they are subconsciously preparing themselves for the work of squaring and cubing later in their Montessori schooling.
A friendly Montessorian once said, “It is always important to remember that one of the keys to learning is repetition with a difference”. A Montessori classroom offers children a variety of ways to learn important concepts. Our aim as Montessori teachers is to ignite the children’s passion for learning and to guide them to make connections with other work.
In the upper elementary classroom, the students have shown a keen interest in one and two point perspective drawing and have thoroughly enjoyed creating their own city-scapes. A few of the students decided to take their math work one step further by using their drawing skills to illustrate their work. This group of students had been working with the concept of cubing. In practice, the children would choose either two numbers to form a binomial cube or three numbers to form a trinomial cube. Here they have illustrated a trinomial of (2+3+4)3. After constructing the cube with wooden materials they are guided to the understanding that (2+3+4)3 is the same as saying 93. This is an indirect introduction to algebra and allows them to gain confidence with the pieces of the cube and how they relate to one another.
The children enjoy finding new and original ways to practice the concepts that they are learning in class adding a sense of pride and originality to their work. Practice makes perfect, especially when it is meaningful and fun!