The Difference Between Montessori and Traditional School Mathematics

Montessori and traditional academic curriculums vary in many ways. From teaching strategies and progression to assessments and learning objectives, they differ fundamentally and create diverging experiences for the students involved in those lessons. Montessori mathematics is a subject that absolutely stands out from the math taught in traditional classroom settings. Keep reading to better understand these differences.

The first set of major differences lies in how the material is presented. In traditional math, lessons are heavily textbook- and workbook-based. Concepts are talked about in abstract ways, allowing students to picture concepts in their minds. Students repeat and practice lessons with times tables, worksheets, games, and homework assignments. It is presented independently of other subjects. Montessori math is introduced very differently, in a tactile way. Math is physical and presented with concrete, manipulative material. Children repeat lessons as seldom or as frequently as they feel necessary. Essentially, students direct their own studies and practice mathematics on their own.

Another difference presents itself in the way students progress through the material. Traditional classroom settings have set units that are to be completed on a certain time schedule. All students are tested on the same day, no matter how much understanding they have, and once the assessment is complete, another unit begins. Montessori mathematics is very different on this front; concepts are mastered on an individual time schedule, and new material is only presented as that child is developmentally ready. Children and teachers work together to assess their skill mastery.

For many, if not all, students, learning math the traditional way is a disadvantage to the Montessori method. Traditional classrooms present lessons in an abstract format and expects a group of children to progress at the same pace. Montessori math takes advantage of the fact that children learn best through the manipulation of materials and at their own pace. These tactics allow the students to internalize their physical experiences and build a strong foundation to build on with more complex concepts later. The Montessori Method guides this structure, just as it does every other aspect of the Grace Montessori classrooms.

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