The classical approach has roots that date back to the Middle Ages. It is based on three stages of teaching called the Trivium. After younger children have a preparing stage learning the three R’s, they begin the Grammar Stage (ages 6-10) where they focus on absorbing information and memorizing the rules of phonics, spelling, grammar, foreign language, history, science, math, etc. The Dialectic Stage comes next (ages 10-12) where logical discussion, debate, drawing conclusions, research, algebra, and thesis writing is introduced. During the Rhetoric Stage (ages 13-18) systematic, rigorous studies continue as the student seeks to develop a clear, persuasive use of language. The classical method often incorporates Latin and Greek studies or current foreign languages. There is a strong emphasis on reading “Great Books” in a chronological fashion and a history notebook is kept so the student sees how their lessons fit together. Socratic dialogue is incorporated to encourage students to achieve a deep understanding of themselves and the world. A typical student’s day may be scheduled with: reading; writing; spelling; grammar; math; adding to a history notebook; logic and reasoning skills studies; memory work; Latin vocabulary; religious studies (if applicable); art; and, music study.

STRENGTHS

  • time-tested and proven style of education
  • the focus on “great books” results in students who are familiar with key texts and ideas throughout history and across the globe
  • with an emphasis on reading, students often become better readers than most adults
  • logic and critical thinking skills are taught
  • there are plenty of clear texts, schedules, learning plans, ready-to-use curricula and learning materials to choose from
  • the study of Greek and Latin develops a better understanding of more modern languages

POINTS TO CONSIDER

  • some parents may find the amount of reading too difficult or the level of reading too sophisticated for their students
  • the heavy focus on reading and seatwork leaves less time available for other interests or practical skills
  • there is less flexibility to teach things out of order
  • some parents may question how practical the study of Greek and Latin are for modern day students

RESOURCES

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