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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thoughts for September (Part 2)

Today brought an end to this:

And a beginning to this:

Truthfully, part of the motivation to homeschool in California is the theoretical possibility of more beach time even during the school year.  But here are some more cerebral inducements, particularly of the Classical method.  The best part is, if you like some of them, you can work them in even if your child goes to a traditional school.

First, if Classical education is as foreign to you as it was to me last year, here’s a really rough overview.  You cram lots of information into the little brains while they are in that sponge-for-memorization phase.  Latin conjugations, historical facts, mathematical laws, more historical facts, Bible verses.  They can cite the primary inventions that catalyzed the industrial revolution, explain the use of a guillotine and list the seven types of biomes, whether or not they know what that even means. 

Understanding comes in phase two, when they begin to integrate subjects and put the knowledge to use through writing, debate and discourse.  In the final phase, they demonstrate mastery through teaching back the information.  The idea is that through this process a kid learns how to learn.  He acquires the tools to master any subject he chooses.

Here are some of the ideas (none of them mine) that I’m excited about:

1.  Memorizing a Timeline.  We do this at home, but my friend whose daughter goes to a private kindergarten also uses history flashcards on the side to cement in a broad overview of world history.  This way, anything our daughters one day read, even novels, will have a ready context to fall into in their minds.  If it has a place to file mentally, whatever they read will stick.

2.  Mapping.  We trace maps daily: American states and capitals, geographical features, the continents, the countries of Africa or Asia or what have you, over and over in colorful dry erase marker.  Kids like it, especially if you put on music for them, and over time, they develop an internal picture of the whole world.  Can you conjure an accurate map of Europe and commit it to paper?  I don’t have that power, but I love that Songbird will.

3.  Reading Biographies.  Kids love to read and be read to.  A mom in our group recently suggested that biographies, unlike dry treatments in academic texts, make historical figures as large and colorful as Captain Jack Sparrow.  History that engages the imagination makes a lasting impact.  So between Charlotte’s Web and Harry Potter, squeeze in a little Teddy Roosevelt and Clara Barton.  How simple!

In the spirit of  educational fun, here and here are some most ridiculous biographies available in board books!  I don’t think the humor is intentional, but we have been laughing (and giving them as shower gifts) for years.


  1. I didn't realize there was a Rob E Lee counterpart! I am missing half of my education.

  2. Dear Nerd, I didn't know either until Mother sent it to me in the mail! I actually never bought Ulysses for myself, so together you and I have a complete history. :-)