Through the years, I have homeschooled my children in several ways – unit studies, literature-rich studies, and the 4-year history rotation. At the root of all of it was a classical education, even though I veered from that a bit in the earlier years due to the New-and-Shiny Syndrome.
As my oldest child aged and I folded my girls into our homeschool, I saw that I needed to have more structure and “classical-ness” (that’s totally a made up word) in our homeschool.
If my goal was to give them a classical education, then I needed to educate myself on how to make that happen.
Because life happened – lots and lots of morning sickness, newborn babies, and a few very difficult life-changing experiences – I got started on my own personal classical education a little later than I had hoped.
Having 5 children has taught me many things over the last 15 years, and most notably I’ve learned that things rarely go according to my plan. And so I must learn to be okay with that.
I wanted to share with you the resources I used to teach myself how to provide my children a classical education. Because I grew up in a very poor, rural public school, being taught in the classical tradition was nowhere near my radar. I honestly didn’t even know classical education was a thing.
I tell you that background so you understand that I was starting at square one in teaching my children classically. I had to educate myself on what that looked like and then how to practically achieve it in our every day school life.
Because I am nowhere near finished with my job as a homeschool mom (I have 15 years to go!), I try to continue teaching myself little by little on classical education and how I can better serve my children.
I will add to this post with resources I discover in the coming months and years, so bookmark it or pin it and come back for updates!
Also, please leave a comment with your best classical resources you use to educate yourself in this way of learning!
Disclosure: This post contains my affiliate links. You may review my disclosure policy here.
Learning About Classical Education
In the very early years of Kindergarten and First Grade, my oldest boy was the most eager learner ever, and we often implemented delight-directed learning that was rich in literature. It was so lovely and a special time.
As he grew older and we added more children to our family, I needed more of a framework for what and how to teach each year. After researching a plethora of methods – Charlotte Mason, true delight-directed learning, literature-based curriculum, history-based curriculum, and more traditional textbook-style curriculum – I settled on teaching my children classically.
The homeschool world is full of a million choices, education philosophies, opinions, and loud voices. In trying to figure out the best framework for your own homeschool, I would advise lots of research and more importantly, lots of prayer.
The Well-Trained Mind
I first stumbled across The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer at our local homeschool store. I was intrigued by this philosophy of learning and the framework it provided – all the way through high school!
From reading The Well-Trained Mind, I understood that classical learning involved:
- Learning that is language-focused – learning that is accomplished mainly through reading and writing words, not looking at pictures or video
- Learning that follows three parts – later called the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages
- Learning that strives for mastery in skill areas and discovery and exploration in content areas – skill areas are those such as math, Latin, phonics, and spelling; content areas are those such as history, science, or other areas that could never be mastered
- Learning is interrelated – topics aren’t studied in isolation, as learning about one topic (Latin) leads to learning in another (Ancient Rome or English Grammar, for example)
The systematic, practical approach to a well-rounded education was what I desired for my children.
After understanding the principle behind this classical method of learning, I could move onto what that looks like in practical terms. Thankfully, The Well-Trained Mind lays out each stage, step-by-step, course by course.
As in most of homeschooling, there is freedom of choice. The Well-Trained Mind just provides a road map based on this methodology of teaching.
The Latin-Centered Curriculum
Only 3 years ago did I discover another gem in my local homeschool store: The Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell. I was immediately intrigued!
The Well-Trained Mind puts a lot of emphasis on the four-year history cycle, making it more of a (seemingly) history focused method. As the title implies, The Latin-Centered Curriculum puts Latin at the center of a homeschool curriuclum.
This was so foreign to me! I had lived for 38 years without knowing a lick of Latin. Why in the world would I put it as the mainstay of our homeschool?
I read the book from cover to cover in one night to find out the answer to that question!
As I read more deeply in The Latin-Centered Curriculum, I understood that it was a slightly different bird that The Well-Trained Mind when it came to the definition of ‘classical education.’
I don’t care to debate which choice is more worthy, but this book does provide a slightly different, perhaps more ‘original’ version of classical education.
It also introduces the principle of multum non multa: not many things, but much. The concept is to not teach a broad range of topics in which you only scrape the surface, but to teach concepts in depth.
Favor depth of knowledge over surface knowledge.
From reading The Latin-Centered Curriculum and understanding multum non multa, I learned that classical education involved:
- The number of school subjects are limited to a fewer number and studied in depth.
- Subjects are taught in relation to one another where at all possible.
- Core readings in English and History consists of only a few texts that students read slowly and deeply.
This book also offers curriculum choices – again a road map – for Kindergarten through 12th grade, so a homeschool mom can determine what’s best for her own situation.
Memoria Press’ Articles on Classical Education
Memoria Press is a publisher of homeschool and private school curricula that instruct using the classical method. We started with Memoria Press’ Latin many years ago, however, we’ve only switched to their Curriculum Cores in the last few years.
→ Read more: Why I Teach Latin in Our Homechool
A vast majority of what I understand about ‘classic’ Classical Education came from reading the treasure trove of articles on Memoria Press’ website. They also have a print catalog/magazine that they publish several times each year.
Here is a smattering of the most helpful links to understanding classical education:
→ What is Classical Education? – a concise overview of how Classical Education works
→ What is Classical Education? – includes a video overview
→ The Language of Learning – various questions & answers regarding classical education
Summer Course – Introduction to Classical Education: Its History and Definition
If you’d like a crash course in classical education, Memoria Press is offering just that from June 14 to July 14, 2020. Here are the details:
A five-week summer seminar course designed to assist students in addressing several fundamental questions: What is classical education? Where does classical education fit in the history of education? What has been the fate of classical education in modern America? Why should Christians read the pagan classics? What is the true relationship between Athens and Jerusalem? What are the arguments against classical education and how are they best answered? The course will consist of readings from the great modern works on education, covering the history and definition of classical education and how it can best be revived in our time. This course is open to non-degree students but is eligible for 1.5 credit hours for master’s or certificate students.
I’d love to attend this, however, I am already taking the Second Form Latin Intensive for Adults (so I can teach my 6th grader 2nd Form!), and I think that would stretch me too far.
I encourage you to sign up if you have the time!
Using the Resources to Help Guide My Curricula Decisions
Please understand that I don’t explicitly follow any of these methodologies to a T. One of the many benefits of homeschooling my children is that I get to research, pray, and then choose what is best for each one of them.
Do I feel guilty for occasionally straying from our classical method? Of course not!
Homeschooling gives my family freedom in many different areas, so I am cautious to not make us a slave to a particular curriculum or philosophy.
Are you a classical homeschooler? What resources do you use or read to help educate yourself?
I’d love to read about it in the comments! ❤