Way of the Good Shepherd

Children's Program | Ages 3 - 10

The Way of the Good Shepherd program is Montessori based, spiritual formation learning for children ages 3 – 10 during the church service.

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
… and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
John 10:3-4

Join us on Sundays

Church begins at 9:30 a.m. and lasts about an hour (we are located at 1140 Claremont Ave., Ashland, Ohio). There is a Story on the Steps (children’s message) up front during the service that your child is welcome to attend. After the story, children ages 3 – 6 are invited upstairs to room 204 and children ages 6 – 10 to room 205 to participate in the Way of the Good Shepherd program.

Additionally, there is childcare for younger children in room 112.  Children can be picked up after the service.

Two Montessori works in our atrium: spooning beans and pinching pom poms.
A combination of a Montessori skill and
a Way of the Good Shepherd work: funneling. Mary taught Jesus (as a child) how to not waste water by funneling and sponging.
A Way of the Good Shepherd work in our atrium: God Saves God’s People
(Moses leads the Children of Israel out of Egypt).

What is the Way of the Good Shepherd?

Maria Montessori created a new form of education for children that was based on experiential learning. This new form of learning was intended to help children develop skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, time management skills, creativity, and caring for others and their environment. Montessori based learning was also designed for independent work where the child chooses which work they want to focus on during each learning period and have allotted, uninterrupted time to concentrate on that work. Children are set up in a classroom environment called an atrium where there are works available that will stimulate their development in different ways.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (cgsusa.org) is a unique integration of Montessori learning with Christian education and was formed by Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd creates an atrium environment of order, prayer, simplicity, community, and work and was based on Cavalletti’s assumption that children experience God. To experience God, works were created to connect the children to Bible stories and their spirituality.

At Christ United Methodist Church, we use the Way of the Good Shepherd program. It was adapted from the Catechesis for protestant practice by Dr. Jane Jacques.

The Way of the Good Shepherd program is a shared religious experience for children and adults. The religious values of childhood, especially the values of pondering and enjoyment of God, are central to the program. The children gather in the atrium, a place specifically prepared for them to foster their relationship with God. The spiritual growth of the child is best served through tangible but indirect means such as the works provided in the atrium. The works are materials we use to ponder the themes of practical life; prayer; communion and baptism; the life, ministry, and teaching of Jesus; and salvation history. The Way of the Good Shepherd program allows space for the children to ponder what the Holy Spirit is saying to their hearts.

The parable of the mustard seed from
Luke 13:18-19, Matthew 13:31-32, and
Mark 4:30-32.

The maxims, a work about God’s rules on how to live as his beloved people and how to love others and love God.

The annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to Jesus. Found in Luke 1:26-38.

What will my child experience in the atrium?

In the atrium (classroom), we follow the same structure each week: we sit in chairs in a semi circle and sing hello to each child by name. After we sing hello to them, the leader shakes their hand and says, “Hello, {Name}!” and asks if there is one thing they would like to share that morning. This is an exercise in calling the child by name (just like the Good Shepherd calls the sheep by name) and helping him or her know he or she is listened to.

After we’ve sung hello to everyone, the leader will show a work to all the children. During this presentation, the children are asked to listen and watch. After the presentation is done, the children are sent into working time. During working time, they can choose to do any of the works in the atrium. They tend to choose works that are at their level. We ask the children to do their work independently, not with another child unless they are teaching them. This allows the child to really do the work and be close to God.

If your child is new to the atrium, we have two adults present who can show him/her how to do any of the works and our children are always eager to share their knowledge, too. Our environment provides structure and independence while still having help available for the children.

You can pick up your child at the end of the worship service. Your child will take home an “Ask Me About” sheet after attending. Read it over to discover what we learned in the atrium today. It will also have the biblical reference and questions about the work to wonder about with your child. Wondering questions allow your child to dwell in the work.

The Good Shepherd

The parable of the Good Shepherd is found in John 10 verses 3-5 and 14-16. It is the focus of the Way of the Good Shepherd program because of its message of love and our connection to Christ. When the children see the work of the parable, they are told that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but they are not told right away that we are the sheep. While choosing to do the work themselves and dwelling in it, they will begin to see more of the parable. They will make sure the shepherd cares for the sheep by taking them to get food and water. They will begin to see that we are the sheep and will name each one because the shepherd calls them by name. They will love the shepherd.

Stay Connected

Do you need more information about our program? Would you like to volunteer in the atrium? Let us know! You can email
the Way of the Good Shepherd Director, Denise Jackson, at cumcwgs@gmail.com.

Our church is located at 1140 Claremont Avenue, Ashland, Ohio 44805. Our church’s phone number is (419) 289-0507.

We’d love to see you on Sunday!