learning classically – the Grammar Stage

Posted by in classical conversations, family, homeschooling

one of the best parts of homeschooling that homeschoolers always refer to is the personal tailoring you get to attach to your child’s education. just in my three boys alone, i have a contemplative learner, a tactile learner, and a busy learner. they seem to change their basic style of learning quite frequently, and it’s good that i can observe, and be on the ready to change up how they’re learning math, for instance, one day to the next. overall, they all learn differently from each other, and i love being able to teach them in a way that they learn best.

some people have asked me recently what it means to learn classically – especially at the age of four!  so i thought i’d post about how it works in our family, specifically using a classical co-operative to supplement our home studies.

following something called the Trivium (described here in full), we teach according to how our brains are designed to retain information. every parent has observed that their child can repeat and retain information very easily at a very early age. since memorization comes very easy to young children, we spend their  first several school years filling their heads with facts. they memorize important dates in history, rules of english grammar, geography, latin vocabulary and conjugations, science facts and definitions, math facts (skip counting/times tables, math definitions, and formulas etc.) we also read. a lot.

i tutor a class of four-year-olds in our weekly co-op while my three boys are in their own classrooms, with different tutors. all of us, ages 4-12, are learning the same facts in each subject and doing the same science experiments and art projects. all of the students have to do a 3-minute presentation in their classroom each week. our current co-op cycle is doing US History and Geography (last year was European History and Geography, and next year’s cycle will cover world history and geography). here is a peak of our classroom whiteboard, three weeks in a row (click to enlarge):

i only spend 30 minutes of our 2 1/2 hours together on introducing these facts-in-each-subject to the four year old students. we use motions, songs, dance moves, tactile objects, or games to introduce these facts. the parents then reinforce memorization of these at home and then the following week, all the students review all the material learned so far in review games.

in addition to all of this information, we memorize a World History timeline using the Veritas Press History cards. this week’s facts find us in 800 – 1200 A.D.: “Alfred the Great, Otto I and the Holy Roman Empire, The East-West Schism, The Feudal System, William the Conquerer and the Battle of Hastings, Cathedrals in Europe, The Crusade, St. Francis of Assisi.”

it’s up to the parents to fill in any gaps, if the child wants to learn more about each of these “periods” in history. it’s not necessary, however, especially to a four year old (or even a 7- or 8-year-old!) to know more than the order of these events. their minds are just capturing a timeline that they’ll be able to refer back to in later years of their education – the years when their brains are more developed to dive into the subjects.

i love where we are in our education “timeline” right now. i love seeing the boys learn all this and i love being able to learn and relearn it all with them. as i look ahead into the Logic and Rhetoric stages of the Trivium, i can’t help but be excited about those stages as well. i look forward to the educational atmosphere our home will be under for the next 13 years and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

learning is GOOD.