I wanted to kick off the homeschool style series with classical homeschooling. It is the most popular homeschooling method, so why not start here?
Did you know that classical education has existed for thousands of years? Yes…. thousands. So many of the greats have been a product of a classical education: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Martin Luther, and the list goes on.
Classical homeschooling is not only the study of classical literature as you might assume from the name. It encompasses an entire education style developed during the Classical Period by the Greeks and Romans.
Our Experience With Classical
I am going to be honest here. When I first started my homeschool research, the classical method was the first one that I really dug into. (Probably because it was the first one that was totally in my face.)
I read the Well Trained Mind and thought “That is exactly what I want for my kids.” I mean, when everything you read tells you how awesome your kids are going to turn out if they have a classical education, why wouldn’t you want to go with that?
But then I began to research other methods and they all have a little something that pulls me to them. My husband was pretty adamant that he did not want us spending time learning Latin or Greek, so that started as the first adaption. Then rather than allowing my daughter to read only Classics, I let her read whatever she wants plus what I pick out. Whatever she wants consists of a lot of Dork Diaries, Ivy+Bean, and other fun reading. So yet another stray from Classical. Notice a trend here?
Um shhhh… don’t tell anyone I let my daughter read the equivalent of romance novels for adults.
So when it all came down to it, I consider ourselves to be a classically inspired eclectic homeschool.
My children and I love the classical history curriculum and the chronological flow of it. I use numerous recommendations out of the Well Trained Mind, but ultimately we are not hardcore Classical.
Just because the classical shoe does not fit us, does not mean that it will not fit you!
What Should You Expect From a Classical Education?
“A classical work of literature can never be completely understood. But those who are educated and educating themselves must always desire to learn more from it.” ― Friedrich Schlegel
A classical education is language intensive, requiring students to understand both spoken and written word. It provides a chronological in-depth walk through history, from the beginning until present. The design is to teach students self-discipline, deductive reasoning skills, and cultivate a curious and self-motivated personality.
The Classical education has evolved over thousands of years, how could it not? But what we have come to associate with a classical education in the US is based on what is referred to as the “trivium”. The “trivium” is simply a curriculum of three: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Each of these three is considered a stage of learning. Each stage is essentially a four-year block of learning geared toward what is considered the child’s ideal learning at that age.
A simple breakdown of each stage in the trivium:
- The grammar stage is geared toward the child gathering facts.
- Kindergarten through 4th grade is full of memorization.
- The logic stage is for associating the memorized facts with what they have learned.
- 5th through 8th grade is for understanding what they memorized.
- The rhetoric stage is then creating wisdom.
- 9th through 12th grade is practicing applying the things they learned in the prior stages and learning to logically speak and write about them.
“..classical educators teach children what they want to know when they want to know it. When children are astonished with the human tongue, we teach them language and grammar. When children are ready to challenge every assumption, we teach them logic. When children are yearning to express themselves with passion, we teach them rhetoric.” -Classical Academic, An Introduction to a Classical Education: A Guide for Parents
What Is Unique About A Classical Education?
As I mentioned above, history is taught is a chronological order. Unlike other styles (traditional and unit studies), history progresses through time. It provides a broad coverage of events intertwining cultures, countries, rulers, and events along the timeline. This method allows a child to find the perspective of time and relation of stories. Unlike traditional or unit studies that take study particular events/countries/people in no sort of order.
As a language intensive education, the classical method encourages the study of foreign languages. More specifically, encouraging learning of the ancient Latin or Greek languages. Then later introducing modern foreign languages of choice. Learning additional languages is viewed as a way to explore other cultures in addition to mastering structures of language itself.
“We do not list “humility” among our school subjects or put it on a transcript, but that is actually the little secret of classical education. The things that make it truly classical, truly worthwhile to pursue, aren’t school subjects at all, but principles that add depth and cohesion to everything we study in all areas of the curriculum. …” ― Karen Glass, Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition
The Advantages Of Classical Homeschooling
- You are following a proven education style that has existed for thousands of years producing a variety of great thinkers.
- Classical is one of the most popular styles providing a wealth of curriculum options available for both Christian and Secular based families.
- With such an emphasis on literature, a majority of resources to be found in your local library.
- The product of a classical education will be well read, well rounded, well spoken and a skilled writer due to the variety of literature read and studied over the years.
- In the Logic and Rhetoric stages, logic is emphasized to create a critical thinker – setting the stage for a high functioning adult.
- As you learn alongside your child, more than likely you will fill in some of your own educational gaps.
- Touted as having the largest homeschool community, so finding a homeschool group should be easier.
- The classical style materials can easily be adapted and used alongside many of the other homeschool methods.
The Disadvantages Of A Classical Education At Home
- The repetitive memorization and dictation work is very rigorous and can be considered boring or overwhelming by some children and parents.
- Being a reading intensive style, if reading is not your child’s strong suit this may become very daunting for everyone. Reading may take time from developing other activities your child may enjoy or want to develop their skills in.
- Emphasis on Latin and in some cases Greek languages that may not seem practical to you even if some can argue the benefits of learning these languages.
- The classical workload can be very labor intensive, especially early on, for the parent.
- The integration of technology is low and is even discouraged for the grammar stage students.
You Are Unique
You and your family are unique. The complete classical education may not be what you had in mind, but like us, you do like aspects of it. Don’t be afraid to mix and match and see what fits!
Let me hear from you in the comments below. What part of Classical homeschooling appeals to you? What part scares you?
Are you afraid of trying to take pieces of a classical education and apply them without being so rigorous?
As I mentioned, the classical education is very popular so finding information is not all that hard. But I have been in your shoes and want to share my favorite resources. These will help you take a more detailed look into classical education over the ages, layout what a classical education looks like in practice and hold your hand as you set up your classical homeschool.
You can also check out some of my favorite curriculum specific resources here.
Rebekah walks through the three stages of the Classical education and talks about how she and her family implemented this in a school environment. Even though she has applied the classical education into a school setting, everything she talks about can easily translate into your homeschool. An excellent video to spend 15 minutes of your time watching.
An excellent resource for a VERY in depth look at Classical education and how it has evolved from the Greeks and Romans over the centuries. Hardcore researcher, this is a great read for you. If you are more like me and really have to be in the right mindset for research, you may just want to read the first 5 pages or so.
Probably the best known and in-depth guide for a Classical Education. Not only does this book outline a classical education, but Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise walk you through teaching a Classical Education starting with the early years all the way through high school. A must read if you are even slightly considering a Classical homeschool. This book is 784 pages of hand holding through teaching preschool through 12th grade. Yes, they meant business when they wrote this book, repeat 784 pages.
Lucky for us all, the handholding continues with the Well Trained Mind website!
Classical Conversations is the most well known Classical Homeschooling Community. Interested in connecting with a Christian Classical community? Check out their website to find a community near you by simply providing your postal zip code.
This is a blog by a 100% classical homeschooling mama of six. On her blog, Sara walks you through setting up a classical homeschool and provides a variety of helpful resources for creating a peaceful homeschooling experience. You will definitely want to head over and check her out if you will be pursuing a classical homeschool!
This blog comes from the writer of the above-mentioned resource, An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents. You can learn more about the history of the classical education, hear about the more recent events related to classical education, check out his recommended resources, and hear from guest speakers on his blog. This blog is a little dated but still has some useful information.
Please be sure and share any other resources you think other new homeschoolers would find helpful in their Classical homeschool research!
Stay tuned for a look at Eclectic Homeschooling.
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