Since its beginnings in 1954, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has used the Montessori method of education to incarnate the themes at the heart of Christianity in materials that children can use to nurture their relationship with God.
Montessori’s approach was used both in the development of the materials and their use. Dr. Sofia Cavalletti, a Hebrew scholar, and Gianna Gobbi, a student of Dr. Montessori, were partners in this development. They would create a material for the children, but before pronouncing it finished the material was introduced to the children and their response was observed.
Each material is meant to be used independently by the child after its introduction. This independence creates a space for meditation – a meeting between the child and God – that is not dependent on the adult. Cavalletti and Gobbi watched for repeated use of the material by the children, a sense of satisfaction and joy as they worked, and comments or artwork that indicated the theological content of the material was accessible to the children. When these three conditions were met, the material became a permanent part of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Two key themes of their work are Gift and Sign.