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Classical Homeschool Method

What is Classical Homeschooling and How Can You Use the Classical Method Effectively at Home?

Classical Homeschool
By Mindy Scirri, Ph.D.

When you research the classical homeschool method, you will find references to the “liberal arts” and “great books” and the “trivium.” What does all this mean? Classical Academic Press describes classical education as “a very large museum with many beautiful, wonder-filled rooms that could be studied over a lifetime.” Doesn’t that sound magical? In truth, with its roots in Christianity, classical education reflects what schooling used to be throughout Western culture, but its popularity has waned in public schools. Now, through changes in some private and even public schools, classical education is being resurrected. It is especially popular as a homeschooling method for families focused on teaching students how to think while learning to be a good person. Find out more about classical homeschooling here!

 

 

What is a Classical Christian Homeschool?

What is a Secular Classical Homeschool? Pros and Cons of a Classical Homeschool
Tips for Teaching Classical in the Home Stories from Families Who Homeschool Classically

Support for Families Using the Classical Method at Home

*This post contains affiliate links. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission. Although many of the resources listed here are free, those marked with a $ have a cost or require a fee/subscription in order to access the full range of materials.

 

What is a Classical Christian Homeschool?

The classical method of education certainly has its roots in Western Christianity, and for many families, that is where the focus remains. Here are some resources specifically focused on the classical Christian homeschool:

A Comparison of Different Methods and Approaches to Homeschooling | Trivium Pursuit
“We will compare some of the different methods and approaches to Homeschooling with which many of us are already familiar. Before doing so, let us review the Trivium Model of Child Development.” See how the Classical Approach relates to the Scope and Sequence Method, Habitual and Environmental Methods, the Thematic and Interest-Directed Unit Study Approach, and the Principle Approach. Explore the earlier versus later formal-academics debate, as well as the difference between the Formal and Applied Trivium.

Classical Christian Education: A Look at Some History | Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics
“The theological foundations must be established upon the Scriptures. In education, Christians have too often seen the Bible either as a book to be studied in a separate subject, i.e. Bible class, or as a devotional book. Christian education must teach not only Bible details, but biblical systematic theology. From that theology, Christians must develop a worldview that applies biblical concepts to every area of life. Thankfully, this has been done numerous times in the history of Christianity. The historic forms or examples can be found where Christians produced educated, biblically literate, discerning students. The historic form can be called Classical Christian Education.” Learn about the history of Classical Christian Education here.

Classical Education and the Homeschool (Audiobook) $
By Douglas Wilson (Author), Wes Callihan (Author), Douglas Jones (Author), Aaron Wells (Narrator)
As we survey the educational ruins around us, classical and Christian education appears to be an idea whose time has come again. More and more Christian parents are seeing the failures of modern education, and they are hungering for a substantive alternative, one that has been tested before and found to be good. Classical and Christian education presents them with just such an alternative. This collection of essays by Douglas Wilson, Douglas Jones, and Wesley Callihan gives both a hearty defense of this kind of education and descriptions of what it should look like on the ground.”

The Lost Tools of Learning | Escondido Tutorial Service
“In this essay, Miss Sayers suggests that we presently teach our children everything but how to learn. She proposes that we adopt a suitably modified version of the medieval scholastic curriculum for methodological reasons. ‘The Lost Tools of Learning’ was first presented by Miss Sayers at Oxford in 1947.

Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child $
By Cheryl Swope (Author)
“This revolutionary book guides parents, teachers, and schools in implementing the beauty of a classical education with all children, including those with special needs. This second edition provides updated resources, more strategies, streamlined prose, an extra chapter, an enhanced appendix, and new stories to delight, encourage, and inform the reader. 

The Trivium in a Capsule | Trivium Pursuit
“The Trivium consists of the first three formal subjects of the seven liberal arts: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. This is the formal Trivium in the classical sense. This formal Trivium is an academic reflection of the more basic Biblical Trivium, the mental capacities of Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom.” Explore the stages of the three levels and learn how to apply the trivium to subjects.

What is Classical Education? (Podcast) | Homeschool.com
Founder of Classical Conversations, Leigh Bortins, shares her thoughts on the foundations of classical education. Discover how the three stages apply to all learning!

Why Classical Education? | Escondido Tutorial Service
“This talk will attempt to answer three questions; what is classical [Christian] education, why is it necessary in our day and what are its benefits?”

 

What is a Secular Classical Homeschool?

Although classical education is often associated with a Christian worldview, families can use the principles of the classical approach to create their own secular classical homeschool. Rather than focusing on religion, per say, a secular classical homeschool is centered on certain values and will often embed character training within the curriculum and homeschool environment. Here are some resources that highlight secular classical homeschooling:

Classical Education: An Attractive School Choice for Parents | Manhattan Institute
“Parents looking for an alternative to traditional public schools have an option that fell out of fashion in this country a long time ago. This option—called “classical education”—differs profoundly from the instruction offered by modern district public schools. It is heavily oriented toward the liberal arts, guided by the Western canon, and grounded in Greek and Roman traditions of academic excellence. […] In a secular classical school, character training is often embedded within the curriculum and discipline standards, and it can be formalized in a civics course.”

Classical Education: Christian and Secular | Inside Classical Education
“A secular classical education is superior to what we have today, and a secular, truly classical education, will be by nature friendly to religious tradition. How is that? The ideals of a secular classical education hold forth the reality of truth, goodness and beauty and the life-long pursuit of these transcendentals. Virtue is regarded as real, paramount and attainable.”

Classical Homeschooling | Time4Learning
Explore the basics of classical homeschooling and curriculum and how Time4Learning can work along with the classical method of homeschooling.

Secular Homeschool Curriculum | Classical Liberal Arts Academy
“A secular homeschool curriculum?! In most homeschool circles that sounds like an oxymoron. Most families who have been interested in homeschooling through the years have been compelled by religious convictions that they did not feel were supported by available schools. Today, however, more and more families are considering homeschooling without any religious motivations. As one who was introduced to classical studies in a secular context, I know there are many benefits of studying them in such a context. I strongly recommend the classical liberal arts to any family interested in an elite secular homeschool curriculum.”

What is a Classical Education? | Capitalism Magazine
“Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.” Read about the stages within this systematic method here.

 

Pros and Cons of a Classical Homeschool

As with any method, there are pros and cons and a variety of opinions about it. What are the benefits of classical education? What is challenging about homeschooling with the classics? Here are a few thoughts:

Through classical education’s emphasis on reading, children are exposed to that which may be outside of their personal experience and are encouraged to look at the complexity of life. Classical education allows us to build children’s understanding of the past in order to live better in the present. It can provide a balance between our needs to entertain ourselves and to discover truth, and it provides the tools necessary for logical thinking, combining worldly and (potentially) spiritual knowledge. Some may say that some of the material of history is too much for young minds. However, others would claim that we need to learn about grief and tragedy in order to be equipped to handle it in our own lives. Through well-chosen books, classically homeschooled children can connect history and the profound mysteries of life with their own experiences in the world.

 

 

Those homeschooling with the classics in a secular way, however, may find resources a bit more elusive than families using a Classical Christian approach. This applies to curriculum and materials, as well as support groups and online models. If you do want to pursue classical education in your homeschool without a focus on religion, you may have a more difficult journey, but it can be done…. You may just have to be more of a trailblazer!

 

Tips for Teaching Classical in the Home

Because beginning a classical homeschool may be overwhelming for you, you may want some advice from organizations, classical educators, and families who have been in the trenches. Here are some resources to help you along your path:

Anyone Can Teach Art: How to Confidently Teach Art in Your Classical Homeschool $
By Julie B. Abels (Author)
“Me? Teach art? I don’t even know how to draw!!” Many of us started there. We felt a total lack of confidence about teaching art. We wanted to give our children all the benefits of art in their education but didn’t know how. Some of us did a few colorful hands-on projects with our children, but we could see they weren’t really learning the basics of art. We had never learned the basics of art ourselves. But then, after a few years of teaching art with the classical model of education, we realized that teaching art can be as simple as teaching any other subject and we can learn it alongside our children! Now we’ve condensed our knowledge here for you. Instead of a how-to-draw book, Anyone Can Teach Art presents the scope and sequence of a classical Christian art curriculum for K-12 students.”

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education (Audiobook) $
By Leigh A. Bortins (Author), Laura Bos (Narrator)
“In the past, correct spelling, the multiplication tables, the names of the state capitals and the American presidents were basics that all children were taught in school. Today, many children graduate without this essential knowledge. Most curricula today follow a haphazard sampling of topics with a focus on political correctness instead of teaching students how to study. Leigh Bortins, a leading figure in the homeschooling community, is having none of it. She believes that there are core areas of knowledge that are essential to master. Without knowing the multiplication tables, children can’t advance to algebra. Without mastery of grammar, students will have difficulty expressing themselves. Without these essential building blocks of knowledge, students may remember information, but they will never possess a broad and deep understanding of how the world works. In this book, Bortins gives parents the tools and methodology to implement a rigorous, thorough, and broad curriculum based on the classical model.”

Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education $
By Laura M. Berquist (Author)
“Home educator Laura Berquist presents a modern curriculum based on the time-tested philosophy of the classical Trivium—grammar, logic and rhetoric. She has given homeschoolers a valuable tool for putting together a ‘liberal arts’ curriculum that feeds the soul, as well as the intellect. Her approach, covering grades K-12, is detailed and practical, and it is adaptable by parents and teachers to any situation. This third revised edition includes a much-expanded section for a high school curriculum, and an updated list of resources for all grades.”

How to Homeschool Using the Classical Homeschooling Approach | Homeschool.com
Learn about the five tools of learning in the Trivium and a little about history notebooks, and then review an example of a classical homeschooling schedule

Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style $
By Harvey Bluedorn (Author), Laurie Bluedorn (Author)
“Can you homeschool in a classical style without compromising your Christian principles? Classical Education must be sifted through the critical screen of the Scriptures to be transformed into a Biblical model. Can you homeschool in a classical style without buckling under the burden? There is only so much time in the day. For every subject, and for every age, we have a workable plan which leaves you free to breathe. You can continue to use other approaches to homeschooling within the framework of classical education.”

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home $
By Susan Wise Bauer (Author), Jessie Wise (Author)
The Well-Trained Mind will instruct you, step by step, on how to give your child an academically rigorous, comprehensive education from preschool through high school―one that will train him or her to read, to think, to understand, to be well-rounded and curious about learning. Veteran home educators Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise outline the classical pattern of education called the trivium, which organizes learning around the maturing capacity of the child’s mind and comprises three stages: the elementary school “grammar stage,” when the building blocks of information are absorbed through memorization and rules; the middle school “logic stage,” in which the student begins to think more analytically; and the high-school “rhetoric stage,” where the student learns to write and speak with force and originality. Using this theory as your model, you’ll be able to instruct your child―whether full-time or as a supplement to classroom education―in all levels of reading, writing, history, geography, mathematics, science, foreign languages, rhetoric, logic, art, and music, regardless of your own aptitude in those subjects.”

 

Stories from Families Who Homeschool Classically

Sometimes homeschooling tidbits from real, down-to-Earth families can be the most useful pieces of advice. Here are some nuggets of knowledge about homeschooling with the classics that may help you structure your own classical homeschool:

A Homeschool Mom’s Journey from Lit-Based to Classical and Back Again | BookShark
“Along my journey of homeschool styles, I read everything that Charlotte Mason wrote, re-read The Well-Trained Mind and even delved into The Lost Tools of Learning. The one thing all experts and philosophers agree on is that children should be reading. They vary somewhat in the application of the reading habit, but not in the method.”

Classically Homeschooling
“Welcome! I started homeschooling my six kids back in 2000 using The Well-Trained Mind as my guide and never looked back. Homeschooling has been a blessing for my family. And I want the same for you!

Homegrown Learners
Learn how Mary, who has two education degrees, has homeschooled her two children using the classical education model. Explore her blog in general or click on specific topics to read more targeted information.

 

 

Support for Families Using the Classical Method at Home

The truth is that connecting with other homeschoolers using the classical method can be both reassuring and motivating. Note that none of these support groups are specifically secular. Do you have or know of a secular classical homeschool group? Let us know in the comments below so we can get it added. 

Classical Academic Press Homeschoolers
“Hello! This group is for homeschooling parents who use the Classical Academic Press curriculum and would also like to ask questions, exchange ideas and buy/sell used curriculum. Thanks for reading, and we hope that you will want to join and talk about Classical Academic Press!

Classical Conversations Exchange
This group allows members to buy, sell, trade their Classical Conversations curriculum and materials.

Classical Conversations – Official
Welcome! This is a chat group for those interested in homeschooling with Classical Conversations to learn how to implement the curriculum and teach their family classically.

Classical Education
Although not a homeschool-specific group…. “This is a place for discussing Classical Educational Philosophy. Please invite people that are interested in classical education. Our goal is to discuss and learn more together.

Classical Homeschool
Classical Homeschool was created to come alongside fellow classical educators for encouragement, support, and collaboration!

Classical Homeschool Curriculum Buy and Sell
“Buy, sell, advertise, promote your classical homeschool curriculum. Sponsored by Roman Roads Media, creators of classical education homeschool curriculum.”

Classical Homeschooling: Used Curriculum
“A group to buy, sell, or trade used classical homeschooling curriculum.”

Classical Homeschool USED Curriculum Buy/Sell/Trade
“A safe place to buy, sell, or trade USED classical homeschool curriculum.

Classical Lutheran Homeschoolers
“Classical Lutheran Homeschoolers: an online community for homeschooling families.

Classically Homeschooling Community
A community to discuss classical education and the simple techniques you need to end the overwhelm so you can finally enjoy your classical homeschool.

 

Be sure to check out our Classical Homeschool Resources page, too!

Classical Homeschool Curriculum

 

And let us know your thoughts on the benefits of classical education, how you have set up your own classical homeschool, or anything else related to classical homeschooling in the comments below….

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