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how to find the right classical education curriculum

Mar 3, 2008
The Trivium is the basis of the classical education curriculum. As its name suggests, the curriculum is separated into three phases. The grammar stage is the first, and it corresponds with grades one through six.

Children at this stage in life haven't fully matured in terms of brain development and cognitive thinking abilities, so the focus is on teaching them concrete facts. The important thing is just making sure they learn facts.

Although some kids this young like to know the whys and hows of everything, their minds are really just equipped to absorb the whats. You can of course explains whys and hows to your child, but the focus is elsewhere in the grammar stage.

It's essential for children to learn the whats first, since it creates the foundation on which to build higher level thinking and a basis for philosophical questions such as the hows and whys. Children who are still in the grammar stage generally can't process this kind of advanced thinking.

This is largely due to their own lack of experience and background knowledge: They don't yet have the tools to process reason.

This is the beauty of the grammar stage in the classical education curriculum. Even though the grammar stage is solely based on facts, it is the foundation for all the other learning that will take place in the other two stages.

All the work in the other two phases requires this firm foundation.

The dialect stage is the second phase in the classical education curriculum. Children are usually ready for this phase between grades 5 and 7.

A child's mind at this stage develops noticeably, exhibiting cognitive skills that allow him or her to mature to analytical learning.

When a child moves from stage to stage, the previous methods are not abandoned. The classical education curriculum is cumulative. Analytical though is simply added and developed side by side with concrete learning.

The grammar stage focuses on delivering concrete information, the facts. The dialect stage switches focus to the whys and hows. In this second stage, these questions become very important.

It is in the second stage that the child is able to test the facts already learned to see if they really are true. The ability to determine the truth on their own is a critical step in developing reasoning skills.

Children learn to understand the importance of asking questions, judging, examining, and analyzing with respect and honor. In classical education curriculum, disrespect is an attitude you don't need when you're asking questions.

When children in this phase start asking questions, teachers and parents can instill positive attitudes by not getting defensive. Setting a positive example helps children understand that you can indeed disagree and still be respectful about it.

The rhetoric stage, or last phase in classical education curriculum, usually begins somewhere around 9th grade and ends with 12th.

Some subjects that are commonly taught include History, Language, Literature, Math, Music, Oratory, Philosophy, Science, and Writing. This is where the all the phases come into the picture and put into practice.
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