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September 03, 2021

Religion and Our Montessori Home

I have often been asked how to approach religion in our Montessori home. For those of you that don't know, we are practicing Roman Catholics. Our faith in a big part of our every day existence and our Montessori lives. Maria Montessori was also Catholic and has hugely informed our approach toward religious education. And honestly, it's not easily explained because our religious education is happening every second of the day as we live our lives. It is giving our children the opportunity to fully participate, to the best of their abilities, in the meaningful practice of our faith. 

As always, Maria explains the approach much more eloquently than I could. In her book, The Child in the Church she says, "People are constantly asking me about this question of religious instruction - whether it should be long or short, determined by the teacher, or left the choice of the children, and so on. They nearly always speak of it as if it were a special school 'subject.' My answer to all this is that I should not regarded as a 'subject' at all. The preparation of the child for his full participation in the life of the church is a much wider thing than the learning by heart of certain intellectual truths. It is a life in itself."

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Basically, we want to create opportunities for real participation beyond simply memorizing rules or scripture. My goal as a Montessori parent is always to give meaningful example, rich language, and the opportunity to participate. Practically, what does this look like? 
  • Children participate in Mass with us - from birth 
  • Creating opportunities for holiday participation at their level of understanding
  • Reading about our faith through children's books 
  • Incorporating our faith into the Montessori Great Lessons (for older children)
  • Child led prayer area in our home
  • Praying with and in front of our children
  • Montessori based formal religious education starting at 3
  • Living our faith in our actions

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Montessori approach to religious education which we participate in. I am trained in Level 1 (3-6 year olds) and have led an atrium (the religious prepared environment) for the past 6 years. CGS was created by a Gianna Gobbi and Sofia Cavalletti based on Montessori's understanding of children and their spiritual life. The atrium has 3 levels - 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 - which each meet the unique developmental needs of the child during this stage. The materials are all hands on, the language and methods used are all adapted to the children's needs and understanding. The goal of the atrium, is not just to learn about Church or our religious beliefs but to give children the space to foster a meaningful relationship with the Good Shepherd.  

We are fortunate enough to have a church community that has all three levels for children and my kids all start to participate at age 3. I have lots more to share about CGS if that's something people would like! 

If you are looking to learn some more specifics about Montessori and religion these books have been helpful for me.
I'm sure there are tons of other great books, I am far from an expert in this area. If there are other areas of religious formation that you would like to know about, please let me know and I can write more about our experience. 

I also want to acknowledge that this is all coming from a Christian perspective, which is not at all required in a Montessori home. There are many people from many faiths and traditions that practice Montessori and they are certainly all valid.  

A look at how we incorporate our Catholic faith with our Montessori family including how we use Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at home.


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Katie said…
I’d love to hear more about this Nicole! I volunteered in an atrium when I was in college and through it I fell in love with Montessori.
Teanna L
Teanna L said…
This is so great to hear Nicole, I didn't know you were a catechist, but it makes so much sense!! I will be a catechist in my son's atrium for the first time this year. Would love for you to continue sharing more about CGS.
Unknown said…
I would like to learn more about please write a bit more about how you incorporate it in your family. Thanks for all your great tips and has made this Montessori journey so much easier!
Rebecca said…
I'm interested in how you incorporate your faith when talking about the Great Lessons. Also, I'm a Protestant, and I was able to watch a video of the lesson of the Good Shepherd from CGS. I was mesmerized. I wish I could learn more about it, but I'm coming up short with resources. Do you have any suggestions?
DIY Corporate Mom
I would love to hear more, too! Thank you for the resources and for sharing your Faith