Classical education is an approach to teaching and learning based on a three-part process to training the mind, called the trivium. The instructional style is based on a method developed by Latin writer Martianus Capella in the Middle Ages and popularized during the Renaissance period. The original intent of this form of education was to create a uniform way of teaching all human knowledge.
Although used in schools for centuries, in the past couple of decades many families have recognized the benefits of a classical education for homeschoolers. On this page you will learn more about classical education for homeschool, the types of classical curriculum homeschoolers use, and how families use Time4Learning in conjunction with a classical approach.
What Is Classical Homeschooling?
The classical approach has the worthy overall goal of teaching children to think for themselves. Using the “trivium” model, children move through three main stages of learning: concrete learning (the grammar stage), critical learning (the logic stage), and abstract learning (the rhetoric stage). It’s a language-focused, literature-focused style of learning that has been adopted by many homeschooling families.
- The Grammar Stage – Just as grammar is the foundation for language learning, the grammar stage of the trivium involves the years where children are building foundational knowledge in many educational arenas. Because children in the early elementary years most often think in concrete terms, the focus of learning in these years is on memorization and repetition. For homeschoolers, this boils down to making sure a student has a core knowledge of math, language arts, science, and social studies.
- The Logic (or Dialectic) Stage – By the time a student has reached fifth grade, concrete thinking gives way to more analytical reasoning. No more are students willing to take information on face value; they want to ask questions, compare and contrast, understand how knowledge relates to other knowledge. The word most apt for this stage is, “why?” Homeschooling a child during the dialectic stage involves introducing them to logic: asking questions that help them arrive at valid conclusions.
- The Rhetoric Stage – As you might imagine, the final stage of the trivium builds on the previous two. The student combines their foundational knowledge from elementary school with the critical thinking skills they learn in middle school to be able to articulate their reasoned opinions and conclusions via debates and persuasive writing. Classically homeschooled high schoolers will focus heavily on the medium of communication. They will learn about essay writing, public speaking, accounting, engineering, politics, and economics.
Classical Homeschool Curriculum
Homeschool curriculum for a classical education will:
- Provide a core knowledge of the subjects of language arts, mathematics, science, and history
- Put a particular emphasis on Latin learning, logic, and rhetoric
- Employ the trivium to explain the stages of child learning and development
- Often integrate the teaching of values or character education into the curriculum
- Train the mind to analyze then draw conclusions
How Does Time4Learning Work with the Classical Method of Homeschooling?
Time4Learning is an online, standards-based program that combines interactive lessons, multimedia reinforcement activities, printable worksheets, learning games, and assessments with reports into one homeschool curriculum. Because it focuses heavily on reading and writing—particularly in the elementary and middle school years—many families using a Classical approach find it to be a strong core or supplement for their language arts program.
For those whose approach is primarily Classical, online homeschool curriculum can offer a welcome variety to a primarily text-based instructional mode. It also allows children to work independently, so that parents teaching more than one child have time to work one-on-one with a student while another is completing their online lessons. View the grade by grade curriculum overview to see what’s available and how Time4Learning aligns to your homeschool curriculum goals.
Additional Resources on Homeschooling Styles
Want to know even more about the different approaches to homeschooling? The following pages can help:
- Homeschooling Styles Overview
- Eclectic Homeschooling
- Traditional Homeschooling
- Montessori Homeschooling
- Homeschooling with Unit Studies
- Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
- Waldorf Homeschooling
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