The classical method of homeschooling focuses on applying a specific model of education known as the trivium. This model breaks education down into three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Each of these stages corresponds to a stage of child development.
In the grammar stage, which lasts until about age 12, children thrive on learning the facts and rules, or grammar, of different subjects. A child at this age would focus on learning the who, what, where, and when of different subjects. For instance, he might learn in math that 2+2=4 and in history that Columbus sailed to America in 1492.
In the logic stage, which lasts from about age 13 to about age 15, a child would focus on learning the theory, or logic, of different subjects. He would strive to understand how the facts and rules fit together to figure out why things are the way they are. For instance, he might learn in math why an algebra proof works. He might then learn in science why evolutionists and creationists come to different conclusions when examining the same evidence. In history, he might study why Columbus sailed to America when he did. He might also study formal logic as a means of sharpening his thinking skills.
In the rhetoric stage, which lasts from about age 16 to about age 18, a child would focus on learning the application, or practice, of different subjects. In this stage, a child studies how the facts and theory apply in real life. In math, for example, he might study engineering or applied science. In history, he might study how different worldviews work out in practice to affect real events. He might also hone his skills in speech and written communication.
Of course, these stages are somewhat overlapping and can be tailored to each child’s individual development. The key to remember when homeschooling is to remain flexible regarding both your child’s needs and your approach to education.
Classical homeschoolers, in our experience, tend to include certain subjects in their children’s education such as classical languages. This is not strictly necessary but is recommended if possible. In addition, many classical homeschoolers teach history over a course of 12 years that involves three 4-year rotations. This enables children to study world history at each of their stages of development but may not be necessary, appropriate, or desirable for certain families. In our family, for example, our children absolutely hated history in the dialectic stage and so we settled for a one-year overview of world history in Grade 8.
Homeschooling in the classical method can be as simple or demanding as a parent wishes it to be. Although there are many expensive curricula on the market, obtaining a classical education need not cost an excessive amount. The resources we use and recommend are relatively inexpensive yet still high in quality.
The most helpful resources we have found that relate to the classical method of homeschooling are:
Teaching the Trivium — This book, published by the Bluedorns at Trivium Pursuit, spells out the meaning and method of a classical Christian education. The method promoted by the Bluedorns is high quality, low-cost, and non-overwhelming for parents and students. Highly recommended.
Trivium Pursuit — This is the Bluedorns’ ministry. There are many free articles on their website concerning classical education. We also highly recommend their curriculum resources and have used the following:
- A Greek Alphabeterion — beginner biblical Greek to be used with “A Greek Hupogrammon”
- A Greek Hupogrammon — beginner biblical Greek to be used with “A Greek Alphabeterion”
- Little Bitty Baby Learns Greek — a Greek alphabet picture book.
- Vocabulary Bridges from English to Latin and Greek — this is a handy book that enables students to discover the classical roots of many English words. Our children are not particularly fond of this book but we do plan on using it as they progress through their Latin and/or Greek studies (Spunky detests Greek and only took our introductory course)
- The Thinking Toolbox — authored by the Bluedorn sons, this course is an introduction to practical or informal logic. Our children loved it. Highly recommended.
- The Fallacy Detective — also authored by the Bluedorn sons, this course introduces logical fallacies in a fun and engaging manner. With The Thinking Toolbox, students will have an excellent introduction to informal logic. Highly recommended.
Tree of Life School and Book Service — this is a Canadian company that provides curriculum, course outlines, and evaluations for homeschoolers. Although we have not personally used their services, our friends who have have been very pleased with their programs. They offer an interesting “Great Ideas” program for high schoolers that is worth looking into. We use their website for curriculum and course ideas.
Parenting Freedom — this is the blog of a Canadian parent who has successfully educated at least one of her children through high school. Carol’s blog is a fascinating read and worth visiting often. She lists the curriculum she used with her children for each grade and you can glean lots of ideas from her website.
Classical Christian Homeschooling — this is a great resource for understanding classical christian homeschooling and for finding curriculum ideas for each stage of education. The owner of this site also publishes H.A. Guerber’s history series through her company Nothing New Press. We have not used Guerber’s histories in our homeschool but they have obtained good reviews.
The Robinson Curriculum — this is a K-12 classically oriented homeschooling program. We have been using it in our homeschool for a year and it has been the best curriculum we have ever used. This curriculum follows the “3 r’s” method by focusing on reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. It does not include classical languages, logic, or rhetoric as distinct subjects, but a parent can add those in if he or she feels the need to do so. If you are looking to add lots of classical literature to your homeschooling program, this is one relatively inexpensive means of doing so. We plan on using this curriculum through high school with our children, although we will be altering it somewhat to create “courses” for our children that incorporate some other materials that are important to us.