On line Course

Online Course Begins January 14, 2019

The online course is 14 weeks long.  There are new presentations that open every Monday. 

The Course Includes:

  • Lesson Plans
  • Patterns for the Hands-on Materials
  • Video Presentations
  • And More
  • The new information STAYS OPEN for the adult learner to go through at their own convenience.
  • Participants will spend about 3 hours per week viewing all the information.
  • Each week includes video presentations of the activities, information slide shows, the lesson plans for the activities, and the masters so that you can make your materials.
  • Video conference calls will be scheduled; for questions and discussion.
  • The course is on the Moodle platform.

What you need to participate in the course:

  • A computer
  • A good headset
  • A webcam is recommended

The Tuition for the course is $700.00 per person

The classroom, called the Children's Room is a specially prepared environment designed to satisfy the child's natural inclination to movement and to spirituality by providing hands- on biblical and liturgical activity. Once demonstrated by the teacher, the children are free to repeat each activity, to retell the Bible stories while manipulating the pieces, and to proceed to other connected activity for carefully selected biblical stories, Orthodox hymns, prayers, and liturgical traditions.

The program is designed to address a most sensitive time for spiritual formation, ages three to six, providing an authentic Orthodox experience where the spiritual child is honored, nurtured, and given a place for expression of faith.

The theology and traditions presented in this course represent an Orthodox perspective. Many of the presentations come from the ideas presented in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd courses and the ideas of Maria Montessori as outline in The Child in the Church.

Contact Catherine Varkas This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I will be available for phone calls after December 11, 2018, at 508-367-7254


His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta and His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston have offered their blessings for this program. Dr. Anton Vrame, Director of the Religious Education Department for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, endorses the course and hopes to see it flourish.

Dimitra Dinos of South Africa wrote to Catherine, “What an inspiring way to introduce the topics. The parables, the Mystical Supper model, and the Jerusalem model are just amazing. After every lesson, I am more and more inspired and excited to get started with the children. It is evident that you enjoy your work very much and that you put your heart into the presentations you do. It has really been a great experience for me. I feel confident that together with your instruction and the videos I should be able to carry out the lessons in the children’s room.”


Romania Course

It was a privilege and an honor to be invited to Bucharest Romania in order to offer the Orthodox teacher training. Adina Tudorache, the executive director of Casa Montessori arranged for the course to take place.

The materials had all been prepared before my arrival by an adult learner who had completed the online course for Level I, 3-6 year curriculum. The adult learners in the course in Romania were so very open and excited about this work. And their theological backgrounds were astounding. I was awestruck by the general knowledge almost each one had about Orthodoxy.

Great collaboration took place as we explored some of the more sensitive areas of this curriculum. Orthodox Christians have a great respect for the role of the priest. It was good to have the collaboration about certain gestures that we show, or don’t show to the children. All agreed that when it came to sacramental gestures, these need to be reserved for the priest. If we want the children to see these gestures, then we will arrange it with the priest.

After completing the ten day Level I course, I continued on to present an introduction to level II. For two days I was able to work with the elementary teachers. That too was an amazing experience.

Please enjoy the pictures. And note that the figures for the bible stories are the icon figures, but they have not yet been mounted on the wood. Everyone understood that the figures would later be mounted on wood.


The Curriculum

Course Description

Why Use the Montessori Method in Sunday School?

The three, four, and five year old children are in a very special time of life. They have passed through a fierce rate of development in their infancy years arriving with the newly inhabited will. The will is the instrument that executes mental activity into action.

Judgment and decision replace impulsive activity as mental activity spurs physical growth and accompany movement. Mental activity is the catalyst for physical development as the child exercises judgment and decision. Movement is the result of mental activity at this age. Mental activity is the result of initiated movement. The will initiates movement.

The Early child just out of infancy has a new world about him- The Prepared Environment. The adult prepares the environment that satisfies the mental urges giving way to interaction with the prepared environment.


What is a prepared Environment?

The prepared environment is structured with many activities for the child to work with. The activity is first demonstrated by the adult so that the child can see how the items are handled. The child is then free to choose that activity and process that which it is designed to teach. By handling the materials in a specific way the child is able to work independently at a chosen space and a chosen pace. The child can also repeat the activity whenever it is available. The work is available when it is on the shelf, in other words when it is not being used by another. Making choices and channeling random energy into purposeful activity is one result of the prepared environment.

During the early childhood years, the brain develops more than it does collectively for the all of life. Language development, the ability to concentrate, order, and classify are determined in the early child during the sensitive periods of development. Maria Montessori explained the specific sensitive periods of development and taught us how to prepare the environment so that the child can develop their human potentialities and develop self discipline through the structured freedom.

How does this apply to Sunday School?

We have prepared the environment with activities that assist the understanding of the Holy Bible and the Divine Liturgy. The “Children’s Room” is prepared with many activities for the child to choose after receiving the lesson from the adult. The activities are based on the following:

Parables of the Kingdom of God

The specific parables have been chosen according to the response of the young child. The chosen parables lead the young child to contemplation and wonder. The parables are read from the Holy Bible and there is an activity for each one. For example, The Growing Seed, seeds and plants are examined in a particular way.


Infancy Narratives about the life of Jesus Christ

The chosen narratives begin with the Evangelismos and are specifically chosen according to their appropriateness for the young child. These narratives are read from the Holy Bible and then the child has the opportunity to work with the materials for each narrative. This provides the opportunity for the child to ponder the meaning of that which was heard.

Geography of the Holy Land

The maps and the city of Jerusalem diorama help the child to become familiar with the names of places that are mentioned in the Holy Bible. They also are manipulatives that are used to explain places and events in the life of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. This assists the young children’s ability to process that which is heard when the Holy Bible is read.

Response Gestures and Hymns of the Divine Liturgy 

The response gestures of the Divine Liturgy are carefully shown and the children have the opportunity to practice them. This makes them feel more at home in The House of God as they become familiar with their role during the Divine Liturgy. The children become greater participants in the church services as they know what is expected of them and they just love to master these gestures.

The richness of the hymns of the Divine Liturgy speaks for themselves. The children Chant in both Greek and English. Ideally the Sunday school program will be a few hours long so that more of this wonderful chanting can take place.


Holy Communion and Baptism

Both Holy Communion and Baptism are explained to the children in a way that they can absorb the meaning of both. While remaining theologically sound and grounded in Orthodoxy; the steps for each sacrament are carefully presented slowly and one at a time over the course of the Sunday school year.

The Holy Altar 

The children are shown miniature altar items (not to be confused with the real thing). The children learn the names of the items and then recognize them while in Church. Again the child becomes more familiar with the Divine Liturgy.

Liturgical Colors, Vestments, and the Liturgical Calendar

The color of the vestments and altar cloths change with the Liturgical calendar. The colors in the children’s room also change accordingly. The Liturgical seasons can be associated with certain colors. The children begin to recognize the season by the color of the altar cloth and the priestly vestments.

The Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd parable is a central theme in the children’s room. Also the Found Sheep parable and Psalm 23 are celebrated.

Paschal Narratives

The Mystical Supper, Jerusalem (Holy Week), and the Women at the Tomb are presentations in the children’s room that lead the child to a more complete faith experience.


The Gathering Table

The gathering table is just that; a table for children to gather around and hear the chosen
Prophesies and prayers. In addition, the Icon corner is a place where the children are invited to offer spontaneous prayer. Prayer at this young age is often spontaneous as it is often prayer of thanksgiving.

Practical Life

This course will present the fundamental principles of the Practical Life area as a foundation for the child’s development of confidence and competence in daily life. Topics include how to prepare the exercises of Practical Life, grace and courtesy, control of movement, control of the person, care of the environment, and food and nutrition. Teachers will also learn how to analyze each child’s development of independence that occurs from using the exercises.

Catherine Varkas, Director
Palm Harbor Montessori Teacher Education Center; Nationally Accredited (MACTE, AMS)
Hellenic College Alumni Board
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 508-367-7254 (cell)

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Lecture on the Spiritual Formation of the Early Child



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