How does one go about educating their children Classically when they have no background in Classical Education?
Sometimes I think people become very intimidated by Classical Education.
They hear LATIN and LOGIC and think it will be entirely too difficult. AND, why would anyone in today's modern society need those lost arts, anyway?
(The most concise explanation of Classical Education I've found is at The Well Trained Mind. Read it if you have no clue about Classical Education!)
I have known for the past several years that I wanted to educate my children Classically, and it's been a journey that has involved much SELF EDUCATION, as well as joining a local group of Classical homeschoolers.
As I share a typical week in our Classical homeschool, I hope it can encourage and inspire you to embark on your own journey. I'm so happy our family is on this road TOGETHER.
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Parent Self Education
This part of Classical Education used to be quite intimidating to me.
Now, however, it is just a part of our lives. We are continually seeking knowledge, reading books, listening to podcasts, and having discussions.
I'm very thankful to have a husband and a supportive community of homeschoolers that are on the SAME journey, so there is much support.
Especially in your children's teenage years, a Classically homeschooling parent can't step out or abdicate teaching to a "school". The biggest part of Classical Education at this age (in my opinion) are the discussions that occur between the parent and child.
This week I began The Brothers Karamazov - because David Hicks mentioned it was his favorite, and also because Anna has been reading short stories by Dostoyevsky in Challenge B this semester.
I also enjoy getting The Classical Teacher from Memoria Press (their catalog - so you can get it for free or read it online). The articles are always informative and just the right length for my busy days.
Also, keeping books about Classical Education front and center on our bookshelves is important. Right now I am currently reading:
- The Office of Assertion - An Art of Rhetoric for the Academic Essay
- The Question (essential if you have a child in the Classical Conversations Challenge Program)
- The Well-Trained Mind
Below are my FAVORITE resources for your Classical self education:
Classical Education in the Early Teen Years (Dialectic Stage)
Last year I began to see a slow shift in Anna's thought processes.
She went from being a sponge for information, to being able to process and ponder that information more deeply.
This is an EXCITING time in our children's development. Yes, sometimes it can be frustrating, because teens are learning the art of ARGUMENT. But, that art of argument can take them far if channeled properly.
I am also seeing how, when Anna tackles a new subject, she focuses first of the GRAMMAR of the subject, and then its application in the subject she is learning about.
A typical school day involves approximately six hours of academic work. Yes, I know this can seem like a lot, but Anna has gotten used to this, and knows that to achieve the desired results, this is what is necessary. I believe we do our children a grave injustice when we water things down for them and assume they aren't capable of tackling hard things, or sitting for long periods of time.
In her education, as in life, we work at a task long and hard before we sometimes see the fruit. She is learning the skills of perseverance (even when something isn't "FUN") and diligence.
If these skills transfer to her adult life I will be a happy mama!
I love that homeschooling is teaching her how to set her own schedule (which sometimes means success and sometimes means failure) and learn to work at her own pace. She shuffles her schoolwork around to allow for volunteer opportunities and other things that are important to her.
One lesson from Saxon Algebra 1/2 is completed each day.
I immediately grade the lesson and Anna fixes any she has missed. (This immediate feedback is imperative for her to understanding any errors.) We also talk about the concepts learned in that lesson.
If there are any questions about how to work a problem, we fall back on the Saxon Teacher DVDs. (They have SAVED me many times!)
This semester in Challenge B, the students are tackling Chemistry with Discovering Atomos: A Grammatical Introduction to Atomic Processes in Chemistry. Anna has been creating flashcards for all of the new terms she is learning, and also completing lessons which focus on the application of those terms.
I REALLY like this little gem of a Chemistry book!
Music is very important in our homeschool, too. Anna generally practices while I'm grading her math, and I'm so happy she also sits down periodically throughout the day to play.
We are working our way through Henle Latin. This is DIFFICULT. It has been hard for me, and I know it has been hard for Anna. Next year she will be taking Henle Latin online through Memoria Press Online Academy to give us some help.
Classical Education For The Younger Grades (Grammar Stage)
Because we didn't home educate Classically when my daughter was in the elementary grades, I am just now discovering how well prepared a student from the grammar stage will be for the dialectic stage!
We do so much memory work - and my son LOVES it. We do a lot of drill and repetition. We diagram a lot of sentences.
I'm filling this sweet boy full of facts that he will draw upon as he gets older.
This stage of Classical education is SO exciting!
Like his sister, Grant practices piano each day. He is learning that commitment to a task, as well as daily practice, produces excellence.
Math drills in Saxon 6/5 are enjoyable for Grant. I know not every child enjoys being timed on these drills. I think the important part is completing the drill sheets each day, and over time speed and accuracy will improve. You don't necessarily have to time your child.... just ensure the drills are getting done each day.
The geography memory work in Foundations is also a favorite of Grant's. This week he focused on American Terrain and Desserts. He loves to trace maps and has quite a collection in his binder (which is kept at the geography table).
A love of English Grammar has been a pleasant surprise for this mom! Our Essentials tutor is so calm and thorough with the kids, and she is especially good with the more "enthusiastic" boys in the group. If you would have told me 6 months ago that Grant would love to learn about Object Complement Nouns and Verbals I wouldn't have believed you, but he DOES and it's a beautiful thing to see.
I can only imagine what learning Latin will be like for him when he gets to Challenge, because he has this exception "foundation".
Take Time for Fun in a Classical Education
All of this academic work without breaks or other things could lead to some very unhappy children, don't you think?
At the heart, my kids are still KIDS, and we take plenty of time to just let them be KIDS.
Anna ADORES reading, and she has started a fabulous new (to her) series this week.
Grant loves LEGOS, and spends a lot of time just building.
This week the kids enjoyed a fun bowling outing with their Classical Conversations friends.
Grant spent A LOT of time biking around our neighborhood!
A lot of time was spent working in the yard to clean up for spring - we set up the bird feeders and love watching all of our trees come into bloom. Whenever the two Red Bud trees in the front yard begin to turn we know that Easter is near!
We also listened to A LOT of music this week. The John Williams Pandora Station seemed to be the favorite, and we also had a lesson about Handel's Hallelujah Chorus (it's a free download here on the blog).
As I sit back and look over our week, I'm so pleased to be able to homeschool. And, I'm so pleased that we are educating CLASSICALLY.
What about YOU? Are you a Classically educating homeschool parent? Are you interested in Classical Education? Or, does another method work better for your family -- and WHY? Leave me a comment and let's get a conversation started!
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