Album page The summary outline which includes the doctrinal content and direct aim of a presentation of a specific material to a child

Atrium (pl. atria)  The room in which a child may encounter God through his or her own hands-on work with a variety of materials based upon liturgical or Biblica topics; the “classrom” for the children participating in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  In the 1st century, “atrium” was the term for the space where catechumens were prepared for their baptisms into the church between the nave of a church and its surrounding environment.  The term was first used in reference to a children’s spiritual education environment by Maria Montessori during her experiment with religious education in Barcelona, Spain. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd rests upon the foundation of her work there and honored it by keeping the name she gave to the space.  See The Child in the Church by E.M. Standing for more information.

Catechesis  In a general sense catechesis is a method of sharing faith through oral tradition, of passing on belief and tradition through oral instruction.  At the heart of the Greek word is the root word for “echo.” In CGS we believe that the adult listens with the child for the echo of the voice of Jesus of Nazareth, our Good Shepherd.

Catechist A person who instructs others in the faith through oral instruction.  In CGS a catechist is an individual who has completed the required formation course and who, as an invisible servant, assists the child in falling in love with Christ through contemplative use of the prepared atrium and its materials.

Cavalletti, Sofia A biblical scholar of great repute and the co-discoverer of the way of being with children before God that has become known as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Biography of Sofia Cavalletti by Scottie May for the Talbot School of Theology

Formation Course A one hundred to one hundred forty hour adult spiritual retreat, study of scripture and liturgy, and introduction to CGS materials and way of life which includes detailed information on the Montessori principles of education and child development.  Although often called a “training,” a formation course is much more and often transforms the lives and converts the manners and hearts of participants.

Gobbi, Gianna A Montessori educator of great repute who trained directly under Montessori, she, along with Sofia Cavalletti, is the co-discoverer of the way of being with children before God that has become known as the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Infancy Narrative   One of the scriptural texts concerning the conception, birth, or childhood of Jesus of Nazareth.  The most well known of these are the Annunciation to Mary found in Luke 1, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth which is also found in Luke 1, the Nativity of Christ and the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple both of which are found in Luke 2, the Adoration of the Wisemen and the Flight into Egypt found in Matthew 2, and the boy Jesus found in the Temple in Jerusalem which is found in Luke 2.

Level 1 The prepared environment (space, materials, children, and formed adults) for the youngest (3-6 year old) participants in CGS.

Level 2  The prepared environment (space, materials, children, and formed adults) for the 6-9 year old participants in CGS.

Level 3  The prepared environment (space, materials, children, and formed adults) for the oldest (9-12 year old) participants in CGS.

Paschal Narrative One of the scriptural texts concerning the passion, death, or resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Practical Life Activities which support and develop a child’s ability to independently care for himself and his environment.

Prepared Environment  A term used to describe the atrium or classroom in a Montessori based program.  A prepared environment offers the essential elements for a child’s optimal development including the key components of the physical space, the educational tools, and the trained adult.  Characteristics of the prepared environment include simplicity, beauty, and accessibility; furnisings and tools in proportion to the size of the children in the room; order; freedom of movement and activity within guidelines for the child; specially designed materials to develop specific cognitive skills; limitation of materials so that only those materials that support a child’s specific development are included; and mixed age groups of children (normally across a three year age range: 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12) to allow children to develop their individualities both socially and intellectually at their own pace.

Presentation The presentation by an adult to a child of a topic content through the presentation of its related material’s proper use, using as few words as possible to allow a child to absorb the physical movement and intellectual content of the material. 

Magnificat  The song of praise lifted up by Mary in response to her cousin Elizabeth greeting her as the mother of the Christ (Luke 1)

Material(s)  The didactic, concrete tools available to a child to explore and learn about scripture and liturgy in a CGS atrium.  A term used by Montessori to describe the educational tools she created for the use of the children in Montessori schools.

Materials Manual  An official guide and instructional manual for the creation of those materials deemed appropriate for CGS by the International Consiglio of CGS.  The National Association of the Catechesis of The Good Shepherd USA maintains up-to-date materials manuals online at for its members.

Maxims Moral commandments; in a CGS atrium this refers particularly to those given by Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospels.

Maria Montessori An Italian physician and educator, a noted humanitarian, and a devout Roman Catholic best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name and for her writing on scientific pedagogy. Her educational method is in use today in public and private schools throughout the world.

Planes of Development  The four Planes (or phases) of development is an overall vision of Montessori’s developmental psychology which provides a holistic view of the developing human being from infancy to adulthood and explains the constant Montessori idea of the importance of education as a “help to life”. Montessori observed that each stage or plane of development lasts approximately six years, and a different set of psychological characteristics can be observed in each stage

Sensitive Period A term coined by the Dutch geneticist Hugo de Vries and adopted by the Italian educator Maria Montessori to refer to important periods of childhood development during which children are particularly driven by vital exigencies to learn particular skills and knowledge.


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