Maria Montessori was an Italian educator who believed giving children the freedom to explore their environment was the best way for them to learn. She developed classrooms full of interesting things that would engage children, encourage them to explore, experiment and ultimately learn.
While I don’t necessarily agree with everything in her theories, she did have some important points. And though as far as we know, she didn’t apply them to a child’s spiritual growth and development, they do.
The ministry of Jesus and how he discipled the apostles is very interesting. We know now what their futures held, but they didn’t. Jesus did, however, and he spent a lot of time teaching and mentoring them. But look a little more closely.
There were times where he went off to pray and left them to themselves. At other times, he sent one or more of them on what could basically be described as an errand. Once he sent them off for a period of time to try teaching and healing on their own.
These opportunities gave the apostles time and room to process, think, pray, day dream, experiment and practice. The Bible doesn’t give us many details about what they did during these times. We know a few of their activities like fishing, sleeping, discussing, arguing and talking to those around them, but we can only imagine the other things they did during those times.
The apostles spent about three years with Jesus. Yet the teaching, mentoring and free space and time to grow helped them do just that. As far as we know, with the exception of Judas, they all became courageous ministers.
Who knows the plans God has for your kids? What Maria Montessori and Jesus knew though is that your kids need some free time. They need time to pray, read scripture and process everything they are learning about God. They need time to reflect on scripture and think about who God has created them to be. They need time to experiment with the gifts God may have given them and think about how they can be more like Jesus. They need to experiment in the ways they can best serve others and share their faith.
They won’t have the time to do these things if every moment is not just scheduled, but over scheduled. Or if their free time is spent interacting with screens. Fill your home with things they can explore, experiment with and ultimately learn. Give them enough free time without devices so they can work on becoming who God wants them to be.
This will probably mean making some tough decisions. Activities will have to be cut. Ignore societal pressure that demands every child be engaged in programmed activities every minute of every day. Yes, idle hands can be the devil’s workshop, but only if there is no godly adult presence and guidance. Give your kids the space and time to grow to be the person God created them to be. You may just be pleasantly surprised how they grow when they have the space and time to do it.