Trivium Pursuit

How to “jump start” into Christian classical education

I am a “technophobe” and thus hope I am able to do this right. My husband and I pulled 2 of our 3 out of public school when they finished 5th and 3rd grades and for 4 years have been muddling and puddling our way through homeschooling methods, hoping and praying that the Lord will honor our obedience to bring our children home and train them. Though we enjoy our being together and many of the public school weaknesses/bugs have been overcome, some still linger and haunt us, partly because we have not been able to decide/find a “method” that will work for us and have been hopping here and there from year to year.

There is so much out there, plus the fact that I feel I have the public system mentality and often want to school at home. We have come across Christian classical education and wonder whether there is hope for our children to become successful learners considering they are older. Is there a time when it’s too late to start? How we can jump start our three? Our going into 10th grade boy is an average reader but at times misreads words (and will keep on reading), is a poor speller and needs help with grammar and organizing his ideas when writing. Our going into 8th grade girl is an average student who has overcome her reading deficiency, enjoys reading but lags in math and writing and grammar. Our going into 3rd boy needs some support with phonics. I tried Writing Road to Reading (too intensive) and Pathways Phonics (not guided enough). Please advise as to how we can jump start all three into classical education, if it’s not too late for the older two.

Thank you so much to any and all suggestions. SC

No, it’s not too late.

Concerning phonics for your younger child, I suggest All About Reading. All About Reading is a scripted, open-and-go program developed for busy parents, teachers, and tutors who want to teach reading in the most effective way possible. This program doesn’t require long periods of study, you don’t have to develop your own lesson plans, and you don’t have to stress over what to teach next because everything is laid out for you, step by step. You’ll get solid grounding in how to teach reading without being overwhelmed. My daughter uses this with her children, and I help her when I’m visiting. I highly recommend it.

Many of the suggestions for the under age ten children (see Chapter 11 of our book Teaching the Trivium — Ten Things to Do Before Age Ten) would apply to all your children: parents reading aloud two hours a day; memorization; oral narration; etc. These activities will help develop language skills. The Ten Things are how you “jump start” into Christian classical education.

Concerning writing and grammar for the older two, I suggest starting at the beginning with a short period of time spent on copywork (perhaps a month or so), moving on to dictation, then on to letter writing and journal entries, and at some point starting outlining and more creative writing such as essays and book reviews. You might want to get yourself a good writing and/or grammar curriculum to help you with this process. We also discuss this in more detail in Teaching the Trivium.

And remember that Christian classical education is not just adding to your curriculum more subjects or studying history chronologically. It’s a way of life. If your children are spending a couple hours a day with “pictures” (TV, videos, computer games, etc.) then they won’t have the time they need to develop good language skills and creative abilities.

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