First published on February 11, 2021
(A note from the author: This post is part of a series that addresses common misconceptions about Montessori theory in general, as well as Catholic Montessori theory in particular. Read the first post here.)
Many parents, whose children are older than the typical starting age of 3 years old in an Atrium or Montessori environment, believe that their child is “too old” for Montessori. However, Montessori is more than just a pedagogical method: it’s a philosophy based on a proper understanding of the God-given nature of the child. Maria Montessori’s theory is about development from birth to adulthood, around the age of 24. When you grasp these truths, you realize that your child is not too old.
At the heart of Catholic Montessori is understanding your child and then responding (rather than reacting) to meet your child’s needs. And when your child’s needs are met, your child becomes deeply peaceful – and so does your home life.
You’re never too late
Recall the words of the Good Thief as he hung on his cross next to Our Lord. Memorialized in the Communion Prayer of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, St. Dismas acknowledged his guilt and then pleaded, “Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom.”
Ever merciful, even in His final agony, Jesus replied, “Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise” (cf. Luke 23: 42-43).
I love this scene: it give me great comfort. The simple message is that we are never to give up hope, for God’s mercy is always greater than our sin, our mistakes. And whenever God calls us to conversion or to begin a new way of thinking or living, we aren’t “too late”.
Deal with fewer tantrums in 3 days (or less!)
God calls us at different times
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus relates the parable of the workers in the vineyard to His disciples. The householder in the parable hired laborers for his vineyard early in the morning and at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours. Even though the laborers worked for varying lengths of time, the generous householder treated them equally well at the end of the day.
Similarly, God leads us to Catholic Montessori at different points in our lives. Some of us receive the great blessing of finding out about Catholic Montessori before the first child is even born, that is, very “early in the morning” of our child raising vocation. Others, including myself, discover Catholic Montessori in the “third hour”: when our oldest child is still in the First Plane of Development. Still others learn about Catholic Montessori when the children are in the later Planes, during the “sixth and ninth hours”. And even some become exposed to Catholic Montessori as grandparents, at the “eleventh hour”, ready to support their adult children in their own journey as Catholic Montessori parents.
The lesson here is that God’s timing and Providence are perfect. Whenever God leads us to Catholic Montessori is best, and we shouldn’t hang on to guilt or regret about not finding out about it sooner.
The Fourth Plane ends around 24
As briefly explained the post found here, Maria Montessori observed that the child reached full maturity around the age of 24. With our three oldest children in the Fourth Plane, I know from experience that parents can still gently and positively influence their children into adulthood, when the foundations are well laid in the three earlier planes.
Yet, the earlier you start, the easier it is
For most things we learn in life: the earlier you start, the easier the learning is. We know this is true for activities like playing sports and learning foreign languages. Likewise, the sooner you begin applying Catholic Montessori principles to your child raising, the easier child raising will be.
If you feel God drawing your heart to this way of child raising, begin today. Start educating yourself on Catholic Montessori principles and how to apply them in your home.