Are you a Catholic parent looking for practical, effective, and time-proven advice on Montessori child raising? When you search “Catholic Montessori” online, most of the information focuses on how to teach academic subjects at home using the Montessori Method. There are very few reliable sources that focus on teaching parents about day-to-day living, about the actual child raising process, in the context of Catholic Montessori. My site is here to be that source of information for you.
So why should you listen to me? I was a frustrated mom, even though I was trying my best to raise our first child as well as I knew how. I read countless books, trying to find a child raising philosophy that would be effective and also fit within the context of our Catholic Faith. Once I discovered that Maria Montessori was Catholic and then delved into what she observed about children’s development over the first 24 years of life, I knew I had found the answer to my prayers.
This discovery started our family on a amazing journey that included my husband and I serving in founding roles to start a parochial Catholic Montessori school (now over 15 years old), receiving Catholic Atrium catechist training, and spending hours upon hours upon hours of studying the subject of child raising, all compatible with our Catholic Faith.
Nearly 20 years later, having poured all my learning into the raising of our many beautiful children, we have enjoyed the blessed fruits of our efforts with a mostly peaceful, happy (but still loud!) home. And with hard work and perseverance, you can have the same too.
What is Montessori?
“Montessori”, often used as shorthand for “the Montessori Method” was the fruit of the careful observations of Maria Montessori, the first woman medical doctor in Italy and a scientist of human behavior. She developed her theory of child development known as the Four Planes of Development, which spanned from birth to age 24.
After many years of observing numerous children of various socioeconomic conditions, she noticed distinct patterns of behavior. These 4 periods, spanning approximately 6 years each, are what she came to call the Four Planes. Interestingly, Montessori observed that the First and Third Planes had parallel characteristics and needs, as did the Second and Fourth Planes.
What is Catholic Montessori?
Maria Montessori herself was Catholic. This is evidenced by her writings that focused specifically on the Catholic Faith. When I learned about Maria Montessori nearly 20 years ago, I also learned how much false information there is circulating about her and her ideas in secular Montessori circles. When I began spreading the message of Maria Montessori, it became important to me to make sure that people understood that her work was undeniably influenced by her own Catholic Faith. Ignoring Montessori’s worldview means that one is not experiencing the full benefits of what her method provides.
At heart, Catholic Montessori is an entire philosophy that forms one’s way of life. It is a way of understanding the God-given nature of the child, who has specific characteristics and, therefore, specific spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical needs. These vary, depending upon the child’s Developmental Plane. The result of child raising based on this recognition is the creation of mutual respect between parent and child, which in turn fosters joy and peace in the home.
What is Montessori not?
It is not simply a teaching method restricted to young children, involving fancy hands-on materials for learning academic subjects.
It is also not a way of child raising in which children are given unlimited free reign, resulting in so-called “Montessori brats”. If that in fact is the result, that’s a sign that the Montessori ideas are being implemented very poorly.
How to Get Started with Catholic Montessori
The most critical requirement to be successful using Catholic Montessori as your child raising framework is an open heart. You must be willing to work on yourself as a person to become the Prepared Parent that your child needs you to be. And you must be willing to forgive yourself for any past mistakes you may have made in your child raising efforts.
The other critical requirement is to have an open mind. You must be willing to learn new ways of interacting with your child. You must be willing to face and let go of harmful attitudes and methods of child raising that you may have absorbed from how you yourself were raised. Then, you must be willing to form new habits.
You have must courage: courage to do unconventional things, even when your extended family, friends, or the world thinks you are crazy. (You will develop this courage once you begin to understand your child’s needs and how to best meet them.)
Finally, you must have the humility to acknowledge when you make mistakes, and you must have the resolve and perseverance to get up and try again after the mistakes that you inevitably will make.
Tips for Success in Catholic Montessori Child Raising
My number 1 tip for being successful in Catholic Montessori child raising is getting your spouse fully on board. It’s very likely that one of you will take the lead on learning how to be a proficient Catholic Montessori parent. As that Prepared Parent, you will then be teaching the techniques to your spouse. Not surprisingly, children thrive best when parents are unified in their child raising approach.
My number 2 tip is that you and your spouse have to fully commit to Catholic Montessori child raising. It isn’t an easy, quick solution to provide temporary relief for a problem or two in your child raising. Rather, it’s truly a philosophy and way of life that involves learning how to work with the God-given nature of the child, which sometimes appears confusing and counterintuitive. Mere curiosity about the subject matter isn’t going to be enough; that mindset will likely lead you to failure. You must be committed to learning and practicing a different way of doing things, because it is so much easier to simply fall back on what you already know.
Common Questions about Catholic Montessori
Can faithful Catholics follow Montessori theory?
Unequivocally – yes! Maria Montessori was Catholic, as shown by her beautiful writings that focused on the Catholic Faith. For instance, she wrote very movingly on the Mass.
What does Catholic Montessori have to do with child raising?
Catholic Montessori has everything to do with child raising. As Catholics, we believe that our time on this Earth is but a pilgrimage to Heaven. Our entire life’s purpose is to work out our salvation, so that we spend eternity in contemplation of the Beatific Vision. The pedagogy of Montessori is but a portion of Maria Montessori’s thought. Yes, she developed her pedagogical methods as she observed them to be the best way to teach children academic subjects. But more significant is Montessori’s understanding of the God-given nature of the children, as expressed in the Four Planes of Development. When the Prepared Parent knows how to interact with the child, a joyful, peaceful home is created. This is far more important than a child understanding how to construct the Trinomial Cube.
Don’t Montessori children do whatever they want?
This is a common criticism of Montessori. And it is certainly a valid criticism, and it often is the result when Montessori principles are implemented poorly. But Catholic Montessori children, when raised correctly, answer to the highest Authority, God Himself. They learn to turn their wills to the One who most deserves their fidelity and loyalty.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Catholic Montessori Child Raising
“And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself” (Genesis 2:18). While this was specifically referring to Adam and Eve, it is also true in most things. It is good for us to have help in our tasks. This is definitely the case in child raising. It’s a difficult task, probably the most challenging task most of us ever undertake. So find other Catholic Montessori parents who are wanting to raise their children the same way. Naturally, the most important support you will need is from your own spouse, but like-minded friends will also be essential to help you get started and persevere.
But what if you don’t know anyone interested in Catholic Montessori child raising like you are? Learn more about my online community of Catholic Montessori parents here.