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There is much being written about educational teaching/learning methods. When I began exploring the idea of homeschooling six years ago, this was one of the topics that I encountered and that I dwelled in for a good portion of my time. I learned about the Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Unit Study, Robinson, Eclectic, and Unschooling methods, but I was particularly drawn to the Classical and Charlotte Mason styles.
As I returned to the workforce from a part-time schedule to a full-time schedule, I had to limit my time to the basics and essentials, and I found that the Classical Method provided the necessary components to achieve this.
Teaching Classically Provides Structure
You can count on what needs to be taught and learned with estimated times. “In a classical curriculum, reading, writing, grammar, and math are at the center. History and science become more and more important as the child matures. Foreign languages are immensely valuable, but shouldn’t crowd these basic skill areas. And music and art are wonderful when you can manage them” (“The Well Trained Mind, A Guide to Classical Education at Home”). You can plan your basic subjects first, and then slowly incorporate the other ones according to your children’s maturity and levels.
You can create a consistent schedule with flexible routines, where you and your family know and understand what happens at specific times, and what needs to be learned.
The structure gives peace of mind to the working parent because she’s confident that what needs to get done is indeed happening, and it provides a sense of security and ease to the child since the consistency will aid her to be well aware of what is expected from her and what her responsibilities are, and her own expectations.
Teaching Classically Provides Time Efficiency
You can teach the same content to all ages through memorization of facts, which are the foundational learning “pegs” of the Classical Method, yet, you can still tailor a unique experience to each child as you provide assignments that correspond to their learning level and/or age. Teaching and learning the same content to all ages for memorization is a huge help because the children can work together as a team and drill each other, providing a great opportunity for having the oldest in charge.
Assignments are more easily planned when all children are studying the same topic/content. This is particularly helpful for the subjects of history, science, foreign language, and fine arts, and in some instances, writing. The time that you really need to plan for individual instruction, is when teaching math, reading, writing, and spelling.
After teaching lessons, make sure that they can independently work on their assignments. Creating independence is one of the keys to forming self-disciplined, literate, curious, and intelligent students who will be more inclined to follow-up on their own learning. This is one of the goals of Classical education. Independence also helps the working parent to just be a lead, a mentor guiding the instruction of their children, but having their children more in charge of their learning. When children can work on several projects and assignments on their own, it helps the parent to manage their time more efficiently.
Teaching Classically Provides a Learning Path
The Classical Method, provides a clear path for the child’s instruction from pre-school to high school. Which helps the working parent to easily plan for upcoming semesters. It follows a teaching style in cycles, where children can be exposed to the same content at least twice in their learning years (between lower and upper grades), with more depth and complexity in the upper years. This cycling has the added benefit of adding mastery to their learning. It also directs instruction according to learning stages:
- Grammar Stage (Kindergarten to Fourth grade),
- Logic Stage (Fifth to Eighth grade), and
- Rhetoric Stage (Ninth to Twelfth grade).
Classical Programs and Curricula
- If you can fit into your working schedule to have a day off to attend a community once a week, I recommend Classical Conversations. It’s full curriculum guide, plenty of resources including parent growth through webinars, articles, and Parent Practicums, will make your planning easy to do.
- Veritas Press offers three options to teach: You can enroll your child on live-teacher led online courses, self-paced (at your own time where there is internet), and a full curriculum taught at home. The option to just take single courses is also available, so there is plenty of flexibility to plan your children’s courses and schedules.
- For additional Classical resources, Classical Academic Press offers variety for certain subjects such as writing rhetoric, latin, math, and poetry, among a few other classical ones. What I really like is that they also have courses for training classical educators with the option to get certified.
- Whether you join a program, follow a complete curriculum, or even plan to teach classically on your own, the best resource book I can recommend is (affiliate) “The Well-Trained Mind, A Guide to Classical Education” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. It fully teaches what the Classical Method is about, it explains in detail each developmental stage (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric), mentioned above, how to implement it, average teaching times per stage, and even how to create your own curriculum with the recommended resources. Resources included are detailed by subject and stage (grades) and it includes sample schedules and required times, so it can help you create your own schedule based on that. It is an extremely insightful book.
Teaching/Learning philosophies are there to provide a style of learning. The other methods can also be implemented in a homeschool with full-time working parents, yet for those that need a set schedule with structure for them and their children that includes educational components with excellency, the Classical Method has proven the test of time.