Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Golden Age of Catechesis

Painting of the Good Shepherd from the Catacombs of Rome, 3rd Century.
To become certified in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd takes two years of training. I took the first half of the training last summer in an intensive course so that we could start our Atrium at St. Mary's. I will complete the training next summer. In addition to the training (which incorporates theory and philosophy of the Catechesis, the doctrinal foundations for each material, as well as learning the atrium materials and time for prayer and reflection) we are required to visit a Montessori classroom. Since I work in a Montessori classroom I am instead required to visit another Atrium which I hope to do this winter sometime. 

I am fortunate to be able to attend any other session of the training given by my trainer at no additional cost. I was able to attend a session yesterday and wanted to share some of the information we covered with you.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd work is based on the philosophy of Maria Montessori regarding the child. Dr. Montessori broke up development into what she called 'planes.' The children in our Atrium are in the first plane of development which continues until about age 6. At each phase of development, the child is focused on different aspects of his growth in the world. Dr. Montessori called these 'sensitive periods.' A sensitive period is a particular period in a child's life in which he or she has a particular need and ability to learn something. The child will learn these things more quickly and easily than at any other time of her development. For the children in our Atrium they are attuned to the following:

  • Movement 
  • Language  
  • Order
  • Sensory preparation
  • Social Graces
The young child is in 'the Golden Age of Catechesis.' It is a perfect time for the child to fall in love with Jesus and the Church due to her unique developmental abilities at this time. I feel blessed that St. Mary's has allowed us to take on this beautiful work for the children in this first plane of development.

In the next few posts I will talk about how we use these sensitive periods in the work of the Atrium to assist the child who says, "help me to help myself."