Once we decided to home school, the next question was how. I did what most people do, headed to the internet and was overwhelmed by all the information and methods available. There are so many methods out there including classical, secular, religious, unschooling, unit studies and distance learning. We loved the idea of teaching James, but how were we going to go about it. Where do you start?
God was certainly leading me in my search, because I found Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education by Susan Wise Bauer. After reading through the website and seeing what folks were saying on the message board, I purchased the book. Both Father and I were impressed by the step by step instructions, curriculum resources, and techniques for home schooling from kindergarten through high school. Not that we had any intention of home schooling James through high school. We were just starting out and decided to take it one year at a time.
What is a classical education? As stated by Susan in Well Trained Mind.
“Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.”
“A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions”
“The first years of schooling are called the "grammar stage" — not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language.
“The second phase of the classical education, the "Logic Stage," is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.”
“The final phase of a classical education, the "Rhetoric Stage," builds on the first two. At this point, the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language.”
“A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning, though. Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television).”
That is classical education in a nutshell. If you want to learn more, read Dorothy Sayers “The Lost Tools of Learning” which I have linked in the side bar.
As time goes by, we have become rather eclectic in our home school approach. We mainly go with a classical curriculum with a focus on religioun, unit studies, and even a little bit of unschooling thrown in.
This is getting long so will break it up into separate posts. Stay tuned for more.