There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone’s doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.” –Mr. Rogers
This past month, I have been fully immersed in a Montessori training course through the Maria Montessori Institute. I had heard of Montessori schools before, in fact the name “Montessori” seems to be everywhere in Nepal right now, but I didn’t have a good idea of what this method really was. Turns out, it’s not just an excuse for neutral-toned, expensive, trendy toys for your play-room! It’s actually a deeply researched and widely tested way of being with children that started when Maria Montessori’s methods began having surprising and successful impact on children in Italy in 1898.
Part of Maria Montessori’s theory is that children cannot be forced to learn. Their highly absorbent minds learn best when they are in an environment that has been prepared for exploration. An environment which is welcoming, nurturing, and full of interesting material will invite children in and they will want to explore and learn. This got me thinking. In the same way that you cannot force a child to learn, I believe that we cannot force a child to love Jesus.
In the same way that all we can really do is prepare an environment for learning in the Montessori way, all we can really do is prepare an environment that invites our children to meet Jesus. To meet His love. To meet His grace. To meet Him.
Of course, the physical environment is only part of the prepared environment in a Montessori setting. The adult in the room is also part of it. The adult (or guide) must prepare themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually to be present and engaged. Similarly, in guiding our children spiritually, I think we must prepare our own hearts and minds so that we are the most important contributor in our children’s spiritual environment.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. -1 Peter 1:13
We are part of the prepared environment. We cannot force anything (addition, the alphabet, or belief in a Savior) but we can prepare an environment for them to meet Jesus. What a joy and privilege this is! In fact, I see so much GRACE in this!
It takes a lot of weight off our shoulders, remembering that it is not up to us. Understanding our own inability and our dependence on Him brings us to a place of humility and rest.
So, this begs the question, how do we prepare our environment?
There are many answers to that question, but I think most importantly, we search our own hearts. We stay connected to the Vine. We worship every day. We keep our well full with worship and His Word. This full well will inevitably spill out into our homes, our schools, and our children.