*sigh* Math - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 09-20-2010, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I know everyone is probably tired of my comments here. IRL people just don't understand or can't advise. Thanks for listening!

Ds came home with math homework over the weekend. It was a page of 100 math problems, of which he'd completed about 20 and there were about 15 highlighted for him to do. I think it was originally a timed math test (they take one every week) and then the teacher assigned extra for more practice. ?? Anyway, it was all single digit addition, which I know he did last year, but I'm hoping it's just review to get back into the groove. She said she'd given him problems that he could probably do at home "without the materials." But that defeats the purpose of learning Montessori Math, right?

He was working on them with golden beads at school (or so they say), so I pulled out our golden beads for him to do the work, but he was really resistant to using the beads and started counting on his fingers. He said, "No, mom, everyone sits together and works on the same problems like this!" when I tried to get him to use the beads. Finally, I just said that I wanted him to learn with the materials because it would help him understand the information better longterm. If he could do a problem quickly (like 7+2) just in his head, then I let him do that, but if he needed to use his fingers, I wanted him to do it with the beads so that he could start seeing the relationship and patterns. He finally agreed...and quickly started explaining the concepts to me (like, 9+7=16 because one of the beads goes to make 10 and there would be 6 left over).

Later, I read that they'd set up their "Math rotation" groups, which sounds very traditional - just like the math and reading groups I grew up with. His teacher is nice, and she seemed to be able to tell me what I wanted to hear last week...but I just can't understand why it's SO difficult for her/the school to get past the traditional philosophies. They've been certified Montessori... so why the resistance?!
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#2 of 3 Old 09-21-2010, 03:27 PM
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I talked to DD's kindy teacher about this last year (who has become one of my closest friends!) I was irritated that the k/1 mentor put together "flashcards" and gave them to all the k/1 students on the last day school so they could practice over the summer. We do have a pretty large Montessori area in our home and we have a lot of Montessori math materials. However, when I got snarky about the flashcards, DD's teacher said that at some point it is a good thing to learn that 7+2=9 without having to count on beads. I guess I can see that and I do feel very fortunate that our charter school is about 85%-90% Montessori, 10%-15% traditional.

Your last paragraph is what bums me out. Math rotation groups? That doesn't sound as if the children are working at their own pace. And timed anything would probably have me birthing a cow!

I'm really sorry you are going through all of this with your school. Don't feel sorry about complaining....I think this is a great group of people here that can truly help *AND* feel your pain! ((hugs))

An incredibly thankful SAH Mommy to 3 fiendishly enchanting girls 11/04,10/05, & 12/06. 
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#3 of 3 Old 09-21-2010, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I absolutely think it's important for kids to eventually learn to do mental math - but I think the most logical way to learn to do that is with Montessori materials (especialy in a M classroom!) rather than on your fingers or with rote memorization alone. If he did the math automatically in his head, I didn't have him use the beads, but when he was counting on his fingers, I felt like he didn't have a grasp of the strategies and logic yet and I had him use the beads.

Yeah, she failed to mention the Math rotation groups when we met last week. I have a hard enough time dealing with the Literature rotation groups, but she mentioned that all the teachers were trying those this year. I think they are all missing the point.

Thank you for your support, BCFD! I'm going to try to become more involved in the classroom - I'm sure I'll be totally irked by what I see most days...but maybe I can eventually make a tiny bit of difference... Or maybe not...
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