Trivium Pursuit

Suggested Course of Study

You can read parts of this article in Spanish.

This is only a brief overview of our Suggested Course of Study. A more thorough discussion can be found in our Teaching the Trivium book, in our seminar tapes, and on our Homeschooling with the Trivium Email List.

Early Knowledge Level

Before age ten, the child is mostly dependent upon his concrete sensory experiences for learning. He is really in an Early Knowledge Level. This is the time to sow the seeds of honoring God and parents, developing the capacity for language and the appetite for learning, enriching the memory, and instilling a work and service ethic. This is the time to lay the foundation for the formal academics which will follow.

Ten things to do before age 10
1. Reading & Writing Intensive Phonics; copywork; start English language notebook
2. Oral Narration  Daily
3. Memorization  Bible; poetry; passages of literature; catechisms; Greek and/or Hebrew alphabet
4. Hearing & Listening  Read aloud 2 hours per day from a variety of fiction and nonfiction; start History notebook; timeline
5. Family Worship  Family Bible study morning and evening using Knowledge Level questions
6. Arts & Crafts  Provide the time, space, and materials; develop elementary creativity; combine what you are reading aloud with arts and crafts to make projects
7. Field Trips & Library  Start learning elementary library research; investigate the world
8. Work & Service  Schedule for chores; visit nursing home, etc.
9. Discipline  Establish first-time obedience
10. Play & Exploration  Develop the imagination

Later Knowledge Level

Consider this basic maxim of Homeschooling: There is only so much time in the day. Keep this maxim in mind as you consider which of the many subjects your child will study throughout his school age years. What is the wisest use of each day’s time?

Before age ten, "formal" academics – a stack of textbooks and workbooks – is not necessarily the most important use of our time. At age ten, most children are entering the later Knowledge Level. This is approximately the age when children are ready for more "formal" academics. Around age ten, the light bulb goes on. The brain becomes physically able to make more complex connections, which, among other things, makes your child more able to handle abstract concepts and helps your child with self-management and self-control. The parent will be the most intensely involved in the child’s education from ages ten through twelve.

Ten things to do from ages 10-12
  10 11 12
1. Family Worship  Family Bible study morning and evening; Knowledge level questions; memorization
2. Literature & Reading Aloud  Continue to read aloud 2 hours per day; memorization and oral narration; student reads good literature; oral interpretation
3. History  History Notebook; use primary sources; biographies; history contests and projects; timeline
4. Composition  Copywork; dictation; letters; journals; simple outlining 
5. Spelling & English Grammar  English Language Notebook; could use a prepared grammar and spelling course or use Webster Elementary Spelling Book
6. Latin and Greek  Start Latin grammar at age 10 or 11; continue with Greek and/or Hebrew alphabet system; practice reading Greek from an interlinear
7. Early Logic  Building Thinking Skills Book 2  BTS Book 3 Figural  BTS Book 3 Verbal
8. Arithmetic  6th grade  7th grade  8th grade (pre-algebra)
9. Science  Interest directed; read books on science; simple experiments and projects; collections; visit science fairs; provide tools
10. Art & Music  Provide materials, space, and time  Could pursue formal music lessons

Understanding Level

When children reach the Understanding Level, Homeschooling becomes interesting! Early teens are developing into thinking, questioning, reasoning creatures. They are no longer content to know what happened; they want to know why.

Alas, at this stage many parents become distressed because the curriculum is getting more difficult, and the children are asking more complex questions. We are no longer allowed to teach mere capitalization rules and addition facts. We must now begin to exercise our minds with our children! Because these children are developing the ability to think abstractly, we parents are being challenged to move out of our post-secondary-school-days comfort zone. As a result, many parents retire from Homeschooling and send their children off to a classroom school.

But this is not at all the time to give up. We encourage parents to persevere to the end. Remember, Homeschooling is for parents. How many of us went through school without learning anything in general, or without remembering anything in particular? We were neither interested nor motivated. We were simply serving our twelve year sentence. We now have another opportunity to learn these things as we teach them to our children. We have the opportunity to learn such things as the math we never understood, the science from a Christian instead of from a naturalistic perspective, the history they never taught us, the classical language they never offered us, and the logic they never allowed us to use. Homeschooling saves two generations: first the parents, then the children.

Ten things to do from ages 13-15
  13 14 15
1. Family Worship  Family Bible study morning and evening; Understanding level questions; memorization
2. Reading Aloud  Continue to read aloud approximately two hours per day; oral narration
3. History & Literature  Combine these two subjects; read classics; memorization; History Notebook; study history chronologically if possible; use primary sources; projects and contests
4. Composition Written narration; outlining; summaries; essays; creative writing; could use prepared curriculum
5. Speech & Debate  Oral Interpretation; Speech; Debate
6. Languages  Finish Latin grammar and notebook; begin Greek grammar and notebook
7. Logic  The Fallacy Detective and Critical Thinking Book 1  Critical Thinking Book 2
8. Mathematics  Algebra I  Algebra II  Geometry
9. Science  Interest directed; science fairs and contests  Earth Science Course
10. Art & Music  Could pursue formal music lessons; interest directed

Father’s Role

We’ve covered the academics. But there is more to say: The classical homeschool is not just Latin and Logic. It is practically a way of life. We’ve made a bunch of mistakes in our homeschooling. Here’s one of them:

Fathers should be more than figuratively the head of your school. Children in the Logic Stage need their father. Of course, children of all ages need a father’s input, but the early teens are crucial. This is especially true with boys — boys need their father’s hand as they enter the teen years. It’s only been in the past half dozen years that we have begun to realize this in our own family. Oh, to go back and do things right! But perhaps others can learn from our mistakes. If Johnny is supposed to be writing out his spelling words and Daddy wants him to help with the lawn mower, by all means let the lawn mower win. Daddy only has so much time with the kids, so make the best use of it.

We suggest Fathers take over teaching Greek to the children. It will not only help the children, but help him in his study of God’s Word. Logic is also best taught by the Father. Here is an excerpt from an essay our oldest son Nathaniel recently wrote: "When I was about thirteen my parents announced we were going to study logic. What thoughts flitted through my anti-intellectual mind I can’t rightly say, but I imagine they weren’t good. Back then, my father had not yet taken on much of the responsibility for our schooling, and so the burden fell on my mother’s shoulders. If you don’t know what it is to learn logic with a woman, how can I describe it to you..." Now, we say this not to imply that mothers can’t teach logic, but only to suggest that perhaps it would be helpful if fathers took this over.

Wisdom Level

The Wisdom Level is the most creative level. The Wisdom Level takes the facts and theories and begins to apply them. Teaching will advance from the coaching and correcting level to the coaxing and directing level. You’ll be asking questions, leading discussions, and encouraging individual initiative and innovation.

During the Early Knowledge Level, parents are molding their children. In the Later Knowledge and Understanding Levels, parents are developing their children’s fundamental skills – giving them the basic tools. But in the Wisdom Level, though skills are still being developed, the child begins to pursue a particular course for life based upon his abilities, talents, and interests. Parents should assess their children’s abilities and talents, help them explore their peculiar interests, and encourage them in certain directions. Our role in their education will slowly change from instructor to counselor as the Lord begins to call them forward and lead them in other directions and eventually to marry and establish a new household.

Ten things to do from ages 16-18
  16 17 18
1. Family Worship  Family Bible study morning and evening; Wisdom level questions; memorization
2. Reading Aloud  Continue reading aloud; oral narration
3. History & Literature  Combine these two subjects; read classics; memorization; History Notebook; study history chronologically if possible; use primary sources
4. Rhetoric Reading; composition; oral interpretation; speech; debate
5. Government, Economics & Law  American Government  Christian Economics  Constitutional & Practical Law
6. Languages  Finish Latin grammar and notebook; Greek grammar and notebook
7. Logic  With Good Reason; Rulebook for Arguments; Introductory Logic (Sproul)  Introductory Logic video series (Wilson and Nance)  The Art of Reasoning (Kelley)
8. Mathematics  Advanced Math  Calculus (if desired)
9. Science  Biology  Chemistry  Physics (if desired)
  Study scientific method; science fairs, projects, and contests
10. Art & Music  Could pursue formal music course; interest directed

Don’t Try This at Home

If you try to follow a classroom model in your homeschool – dragging in the desks and chalkboard, conforming to a one-size-fits-all scope-and-sequence method, following a rigid bell-ringer schedule, and the like – you will probably buckle under the burden. That kind of schooling does not fit well in a homeschool environment. Rare is the pair of parents who have the time and the talents to bear such burdens. It will truly test your determination to homeschool. The great strength and advantage of homeschooling is that it releases you from the burdens of the classroom and invites you into the natural schooling environment of one-on-one tutoring in your own home.

Homeschoolers are raising a generation of custom-built children – no factory models here. We want to keep it that way. The classical model and method for education leaves plenty of room for the several different approaches to homeschooling. The goal of a classical style of Homeschooling is to tutor children in those skills which will make them able to teach themselves whatever they need to learn throughout their life. Our purpose is to show you that you can homeschool in a classical style.