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Monday, November 20, 2006

Why I love Classical Education

Aussie In America (Stacy) asked, "I was thinking about homeschooling methods this morning and was wondering how you came to decide upon the Classical Method. You seem very passionate about it and I would love to know why/if you prefer this to other methods."

A little background information, my daughter went to public school last year for kindergarten. She had a good year and there was no major problems with the school, in fact, we love her kindergarten teacher. How we came to the decision to homeschool is another post (one I think I've already written, which I'll have to look up) that I will save for another time.

I used Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum to help decide what learning style and method to use. She has these wonderful exercises within the book to determine what you philosophy of education is, how you want to teach and run your homeschool, and how to determine your child's learning style. This is the best $21.99 (which is $14.99 now at Amazon) I have spent!

My answers are still in the book, so I'll share them with you.

What do you think is most important for your children to learn?
I want my children to:

• Have a lifelong love of learning
• Be avid readers
• Have a clear understanding of the world
• have a strong Christian foundation
• To be able to explore broader areas of education
• To be perform at their level, not tied down to grade levels
• To have fun and grow together

Duffy also provides a wonderful way to discover what education method you would probably most enjoy by a point system. Here's my highest scoring preferences:

• predictable structure
• children read historical novels and biographies rather than textbooks
• grammar program that emphasizes rules & memorization
• mental training and mental discipline have higher priority than stimulating curiosity and interest
• informal evaluation of child's progress by talking over what they've read (narrations) rather than testing
• young children do a significant amount of memorization, repetition and recitation
• teens get a strong background in the great books of western civilization
• teens develop a "life of the mind" more than vocational skills
• presenting my children with information to learn rather than having them choose their own topics to investigate (there is still room for choice in classical)
• availability of resources that are scripted for the parent/teacher
• lots of discussion and interaction in the learning process
• covering subjects (history, science, religion) at the same time with same materials with as many children as possible
• making connections between different subject areas, showing relationships, viewing that as a high priority in learning.
• to teach my children one on one as much as possible
• learn grammar in casual way then working on mastery in their writing
• make field trips an essential part of schooling
• flexible curriculum and schedules so I can capitalize on "teachable moments"
• to set my own goals and schedule reather than adopting someone else's
• to select curriculum that suit my child's learning style rather than widely recognized and accepted by authorities.

I actually scored higher in the Charlotte Mason category but after reading The Well-Trained Mind- it all clicked. I prefer my children not to learn with computer software and dvds. I love a lot of Mason's teachings.

I have a "Perfect Paula" in Camille, she likes workbooks, consistence structure in both schedule and curriculum (the girl plans the next day every night before bedtime!), rules and predictability, lectures or lessons that follow an outline, repetition and memorization, drill and review, and gentle help to develop creativity and deeper thinking skills. Classical education seems built for her!

I'd rather have my children memorizing addition facts and grammar rules, poems, etc than hearing them recite word for word a quote from their favorite movie. Children have a natural ability to memorize and recite, classical education utilizes this more than any other method. Plus I love the fact my children will be chronologically learning about history and repeating years of study instead of jumping around and never going in-depth into anything.

For example: Ancients - 1st Grade, 5th Grade, 9th Grade (Great Books)

I see value in other methods but none of them made me feel comfortable. I think that is what is important. Can you teach it? I love books, I love reading to my children, I love to hear them read. Even Danny with his car, car, truck, truck translation right now. I even see value in following the Bluedorns' version of classical education. I think the best way to educate your child is to use their learning style, honor God and show interest in what you're teaching to influence your children.

The value of learning Latin, reading books instead of textbooks, learning how to communicate properly through writing and speech, building a solid foundation of knowledge by using levels of knowledge of a subject (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and learning right alongside of my children- that is why I love classical education.


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