This post continues the discussion of Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn along with the Classical Mamas Read group led by Amy at Living and Learning at Home.
Chapter 12 – The Later Knowledge Level: Ten Things to Do With Children Ages Ten Through Twelve
I started homeschooling Brilliant B right before her tenth birthday this year. So, I liked this chapter because it was most relevant to what homeschooling is for me. Plus, I thought it would be a good check of what I have been doing right and what I should emphasize more in the next year. I really took to heart something in the very beginning of the chapter. There is only so much time in the day. What is the wisest use of your time? Sometimes I get really caught up in the schedule and get frustrated that we can’t seem to fit in all the great ideas that I have for school. Then I remind myself that we are already accomplishing more in the day than would otherwise happen in traditional school. I try to take an interdisciplinary approach to learning when possible to make the most of time (think unit study approach). Plus, establishing a strong classical core is the priority. Once you have that, everything else falls into place.
1. Family Worship – I already have a plan to make this more a part of our day.
2. Literature and Reading Aloud – Literature and reading are a big part of our curriculum. We fall somewhere between the historical-order method and the follow-a-theme method. Sometimes our literature choice is related to our history lessons. Other times it is just a great piece of literature that I think B should read. What I have noticed is that B’s appetite for the type of book she reads has changed since homeschooling. She is anxious to enjoy quality literature and young adult fiction. She has grown out of an interest in “brain candy”.
3. History – We are following a chronological study of history and creation of a history notebook as suggested by the Well Trained Mind. This year we have just covered American history from the Mayflower through the Civil War, but next year we are starting back at the beginning with ancient history. B is also doing a project learning about all of the Presidents.
4. Composition – I would have liked to spend more time focusing on Writings Strands this year. However, B is not a bad writer. Writing is a part of our history and literature work, so I let the composition part slide this year knowing that I was going to hit it harder with her next year.
5. Spelling and English Grammar – B is also a good speller and is already a bit of a grammar snob, so I pushed her a little harder in these areas. She worked a grade level ahead in spelling. She is finishing First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 4, and she has done well diagramming sentences (even though she fusses and complains the whole time). She’ll probably skip ahead to a sixth grade grammar curriculum next year because I’ve found the Well-Trained Mind to be more advanced than any other fourth grade text I’ve seen. Plus, I figure that will let her go into a strictly literature and writing curriculum in 8th grade.
6. Latin and Greek – B started studying Latin this year and loves it!
7. Early Logic – I like to think about early logic mostly as games. This is going to be a regular component in our curriculum next year.
8. Arithmetic – I am going to have to disagree completely with the Bluedorns on the topic of teaching formal arithmetic study. It is just not true that children’s’ minds are not wired to handle math at a young age. The issue is that you have to be able as the teacher to present it to them in a way they understand. For example, my college students sometimes have a hard time grasping the concept of time value of money. But my 7 year-old implicitly understand the concept of an interest rate if you ask about the time value of donuts (i.e. would you rather have a donut today or ten donuts tomorrow). Don’t underestimate your children, but be creative with math. There are so many great games and apps to help with this today. B has also really enjoyed beginning to work on the Life of Fred a couple of times a week.
9. Science – Our formal study of science is actually the one subject that continually got pushed to the side this year. We worked on chemistry experiments, learning about atoms and the periodic table, and B participated in her first science fair. I think I was okay with letting that be enough because I knew whatever we did was going to be a far better version of science than she would have received in traditional school. Science will start to get more structured in the next couple of years. For now, the most important thing was for me to keep her interested in science.
10. Art and Music – I consider myself lucky because when B gets in the car the first thing she does is change the radio to classical music station. As a classical ballerina, she gets a lot of exposure to music and the arts. Further study will be weaved into our history curriculum in coming years.
Do you have any suggestions or ideas about how you are including any of these areas with your tweens?