**Disclaimer: All information on homeschooling methods will be just a generalized and very brief *if I can help it* overview of the method. Every family who uses these methods will of course work them to fit their needs. After each overview I will discuss some of the things I do and don’t like about the method in relation to our family. **

The heart of Classical Homeschooling is your child’s cognitive development, or should I say a teaching style based on your child’s cognitive development, also know as the trivium. The trivium works like this:

In grade school the focus is put on concrete thinking and memorizing subject facts.

In middle school the focus shifts from concrete thinking to analytical thinking and actual understanding of the facts learned in the grade school years.

Finally in high school analytical thinking morphs into abstract thinking and the student is expected to articulate the subjects they are learning about. Classical Homeschooling uses Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric as the main subjects in order to achieve the ultimate goal of abstract thinking and articulation.

Now the flow of Classical Homeschooling goes something like this:

Kindergarten is strictly a choice grade, if the parent finds it unnecessary than it can be skipped. If the parent decides to start at Kindergarten then the main focus is lots of reading, including poetry and great literary works. Art is also brought in to work on fine motor skill, and if the child is developmentally ready phonics and math can also be brought into the fold as well.

Kindergarten aside Classical Homeschooling is divided into three stages which closely mirrors the three subjects used to achieve the ultimate goal of the trivium. The three stages are: Grammar (grades 1-6), Dialectic (grades 7-9), and Rhetoric (grades 10-12).

The first stage Grammar, obviously promotes grammar/language above all other subjects. This doesn’t just mean English, but also a foreign language(s), usually Latin and/or Greek, but the family can change these if they choose to. Remember the beauty of homeschooling is that nothing is set in stone, it’s more like non-drying play dough which you can rework as needed.

The Grammar Stage starts with one of the most important things we all must learn to do and that is learning to read! The first year of Grammar deals greatly with learning to read, phonics, and introducing spelling. From then on formal grammar lessons steady progress. Writing is also introduced through copy work and other writing activities. Foreign languages don’t get much attention the first year unless the family wants to focus on it formally, if not then formal lessons are expected to begin at the 3rd grade level.

Formal math lessons can also be delayed with the Classical Homeschooling method, until around grade level 3. By this point reading, writing, and phonics are expected to be mastered. Of course the family doesn’t have to wait until those three things are mastered to being formal math lessons, but if they do opt to wait then they can engage their child in math games in order to expose them to mathematical concepts. Learning an instrument (especially piano) is also encouraged and art is covered by learning art history, which includes copying various works of art. Science in this stage consist of nature studies. Geography starts out as learning through the literature you are reading, then by about 3rd grade *when the reading, writing, and phonics are expected to be mastered* memorization of geography facts is introduced, grades 4th-6th tack on map skills and geographical exploration through history.

After the Grammar Stage you enter the Dialectic Stage which focuses on the subject of Logic to the same extent the Grammar Stage focused on Grammar. The Logic Stage (grades 7th-9th) ends formal Grammar lessons and replaces them with formal lessons on Logic. The reading of great literature is still heavy promoted and at this point the child is expected to be proficient in their foreign language. Writing develops from writing clear, grammatically correct sentences, to paragraphs, and then essays by the 3rd year of the Dialectic Stage. In the areas of Math and Science*usually Earth Science topics* logic is expected to be applied, and the skill of debating is introduced by studying the principles of debate. Music lessons are still highly encouraged, but Art upgrades from copy work to learning about the relationships between the various elements of art.

The last stage (Rhetoric) deals with the subject of Rhetoric, which is the last subject to be achieved in the trivium. This is done through formal courses in learning to communicate. Language is less formal and focuses more on reading literary works in the foreign language the child learned. Writing focuses on finding the individuals particular style as well as on research papers. The subject of Philosophy is also introduced during this stage, and the subject of literature still consist of covering great literary works. Advanced math subjects are taught, and science focuses on a different branch each year (biology, chemistry, physics, in that order). For art the child learns how to create art themselves and music lessons are still attended.

By the end of the 12th year the child should have mastered the subjects taught thus mastering the trivium. I intentionally left off History because the way Classical Education does History it spans the three stages, and thus needs its own space.

Classical Education’s History is broken down like this:

Ancient History (1st grade, 5th grade, 9th grade)

Middle Ages (2nd grade, 6th grade, 10th grade)

Renaissance/Early Modern (3rd grade, 7th grade, 11th grade)

American/Modern History (4th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade)

Each time the topic is covered the level of depth is increased in respect to the age and maturity of the child. It follows the sequence of history, and allows each year to grow from the pervious one. Instead of bouncing around it adds steps to an ultimate goal. Now the higher grades also tie in politics, economics, and government/civics as well. That just further goes with the whole increasing the depth of understanding and topics covered with increasing maturity and age.

There is one other element in Classical Homeschooling that I have left out, and that is the Christian element of it. Classical Homeschooling is more commonly known as Classical Christian Homeschooling, and every element/subject is to be drenched in Christianity, if taught from the Christian viewpoint. One subject that goes through all the stages is the Bible *reading it, knowing it, and having it become the way in which the child views the world*. Even the various subjects like philosophy or logic are to be taught in a way that encourages the questioning of scientific theory while neglecting to actually teach *and understand* the scientific theories they are attempting to tear down, since the science materials recommended don‘t actually explain most scientific theories including the big one of evolution.

That aside though this method can be used in a secular sense *almost any and every item out there can be used in a secular sense if you try hard enough*, but for our family this is a big negative when it comes to this method. Simply finding curriculum or supplies strictly geared towards this method that still respect the core beliefs we hold could prove to be more of a headache than they are worth.

BUT, the idea behind it, the way it promotes teaching to the development of the child is phenomenal.. I really like the way this method flows when it comes to teaching history, I don‘t like the emphasis solely on Western Civilization that I have found in some texts on the method though, I feel each civilization needs emphasis in order for the child to fully understand the world, and where we come from.

I do strongly think that subjects should be taught from beginning to end though. I never liked all the bouncing around in school, just follow history the same way you do math, by stepping up each new year. Consistence is very important to us, and this offers that. We are going to teach science in the same light, starting at the beginning, and going up to present day. Each year getting more in depth as we go, and tying it all in together so the boys can see how it all interlocks.

Are there other flaws to this method in relation to our family, yes. I think there should be a stronger focus on math, especially in the early years. We need a strong foundation in math to function in our world, just like with reading. This of course can be changed for our family, but then you run into burn out with a heavy language/literature/history load coupled with a heavy math *as well as science* load. Reading is very important and shouldn’t be neglected, but for us math and science as just as important. So for us we would need a method that puts a greater focus on math and science, and allows reading to be done as an enjoyable plus once reading is mastered, more like here is a book read it and lets discuss it around the dinner table, instead of a formal lesson on it.

So to recap:

Are there things we can use from the Classical Homeschooling Method? Yes.

Are there things we would drop if we used the method? Of course.

So far just by looking at the method it isn’t exactly what we are looking for. There is potential there though. But there are other methods to explore first before we make a decision, so stay tuned!

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes


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