So, just what is this “Classical Model” or “Trivium” based method?

When you opt for a classical education, you are giving the gift of a time proven method. One that produced the leaders in philosophy, science and politics from the time to the Greeks through the late nineteenth century – including America’s founding fathers. Fragmented versions of classical education survived in a select few Ivy league colleges and prep schools, but the purest form was left to languish, forgotten, until it’s revival in the 1980’s.

The strength of a classical Christian education is its foundation on the Trivium. Or the idea that every child, regardless of learning style, progresses through three phases during their early years. From ages 4 to 11, children excel in memorizing information. Historical facts, laws of science and math, grammar rules – this is the age when they can absorb the information quickly and with a great sense of accomplishment. Around the age of 11 till about 14, children want to know the whys of the information they have memorized. They are, as most any parent is prepared to tell you, prone to argument and to question the status quo. These young adults are primed to learn logic and critical thinking; to access the information they have attained and form fact based opinions and ideas. From there, our 15-18 year olds are equipped to become independent thinkers and communicators. They have acquired, through their classical education, an catalog of information, the ability to connect ideas and now perfect the art and ability of speaking, communicating and writing persuasively, or rhetoric. An adult who has mastered these three stages of the Trivium is primed to successively navigate life, whatever path he or she chooses to walk.

Brandie, at Half-a-Hundred-Acre-Wood writes more about a Classical Education through Classical Conversations here. Here is a summary of her thoughts:

Is memorizing worth it?

Imagine the surprise when you or your child recognizes an explorer’s name or an historical event while at the museum, or a fact that is mentioned in a Presidential speech, or a geographical location while listening to the news.  It has made life more engaging and meaningful for our family to know about the world around us and to discover more about God’s creation as we strive to know Him and make Him known.

What else does Classical Conversations offer?

Essentials
For grades 3rd-6th, Classical Conversations builds upon the Foundations program by offering an Essentials program, which is used in conjunction with Institute for Excellence in Writing to provide a rigorous upper-elementary language arts program.  Meeting in the afternoons following Foundations classes, a trained tutor helps strengthen the “essential” subjects of language arts and structure, writing and arithmetic.  With a focus on the history & geography learned in Foundations, students learn how to organize their writing and employ stylistic techniques, building upon a firm foundation of memorized vocabulary, rules, and lists from The Essentials of the English Language (EEL) Guide.  The unique EEL approach takes students beyond “the worksheet” and the ubiquitous fill-in-the-blank method.  The writing portion of Essentials is based on the method of the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) by Andrew Pudewa and makes writing not only possible, but enjoyable for new writers.

Challenge A/B
The Classical Conversations Challenge program provides Classical Christian community for home school families with students in grades 7th-9th. The Challenge Program meets once a week for fifteen weeks in the fall and fifteen weeks in the winter/spring months.  Challenge A/B curriculum includes Saxon Math 8/7 or Algebra 1/2, Geography, Newbery Award Literature, IEW’s Bible-Based Writing Lessons, Clear Reasoning It Couldn’t Just Happen, and Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door, Nature Study (Fall Semester), Biology (Spring Semester), and Latin.  This curriculum is led in a weekly classroom time with a trained Challenge Director/Tutor.  Challenge I-IV
Our Challenge I program provides Classical Christian community for home school families with students in grades 9th-12th. The Challenge Program meets once a week for fifteen weeks in the fall and fifteen weeks in the winter/spring months.  Challenge I curriculum includes Saxon Algebra I, Apologia Physical Science, American Literature, Debate, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (Drama), American Government, Economics, and Latin. Students develop and strengthen the life-long learning skills of grammar, exposition, debate, logic, rhetoric, and research. This curriculum is led in a weekly classroom time with a trained Challenge Director/Tutor.  Many parents feel inadequate to home school their students through the high school years. Challenge programs can help by modeling how to school with confidence during these very important years. Being involved in the Challenge program also helps direct you through your transcript and college preparation needs, by keeping you well-informed and providing the tools you need for your record keeping.
For more information on Classical Education, I highly recommend Leigh Bortins’s Echo in Celebration, a book full of encouragement and insight.  For additional information regarding Classical Conversations, go to the Classical Conversations website, or click here for an informational flyer.  For additional photos, videos, and links to some audios about Foundations click here.
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