(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 in the series here.)
Many parents, whose children are beyond 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 encompasses the full development to adulthood around the age of 24. When you grasp these truths, you realize that your child is not too old.
It’s 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).
Of great comfort to me is this scene. The simple message is that we are never to give up hope, and whenever God calls us to conversion or to begin a new way of thinking or living, it’s not “too late”.
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 our 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 our 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 children in their own journey as Catholic Montessori parents.
The lesson here is that God’s Timing and Providence is perfect. Whenever God leads us to Catholic Montessori is best, and we should feel no guilt or regret about not finding out about it when our children were younger.
The Fourth Plane ends around the age of 24
As briefly explained the post found here, Maria Montessori observed that the child reached full maturity around the age of 24. With our oldest child in the Fourth Plane, I can attest that parents can still aid and gently and positively influence their children into adulthood.
Yet, the earlier you start, the easier it is
Like most things that 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 your task will be.
If you feel God drawing your heart to this way of child raising, then begin today. Start educating yourself on Catholic Montessori principles and how to apply them in your home.