Slowly But Surely

This week I got to start on homeschooling my 6-year old gradeschool style, classical style. It was super exciting and super new! I found myself, during the preparation phase, bring out planners and stuff.

Back in Kindergarten it was easy peasy. Mental notes on her progress was enough on those 4 basic subjects. I didn’t stress at all, I am indeed blessed with a learner, who reads fantasy novels for fun! It IS her hobby!

My girls love The Hobbit, albeit read aloud for now, for my younger.
They absolutely adore the Narnia series too, pictured here is a lamp reminiscent of the one in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Snaps from Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga

This summer vacation, (oddly enough, June & July) we were able to relish more relaxed and unstructured days. We had time for movie marathons, Jd and I ofcourse “served” time redeeming them with a Biblical worldview. (More on that soon!)

But then August came and its now time for a litte more structure, and “serious” material.

Who else still finds going to school by August odd? It’s the second year of pandemic schooling and I still haven’t gotten used to it.

I was in serious trepidation for about a month, and finally, by God’s grace and much prayer, completed the planning; looking as well to quite a few Reformed homeschooling mama blogs, podcasts, and groups!

What was striking for me in one of the blogs was this encapsulation of grade school:

The goal of the elementary years (roughly 7-11yo) is to fling wide the doors of interest and cultivate the habit of attention. In addition to skill-based work like math and handwriting, we read lots of good books on a wide array of topics. You might peg some as history, science, geography, or literature, but the point is that the exposure is consistent, cheerful, and broad.

Mystie Winckler

You might peg? That’s sure made me laugh in relief! I was covering those things in my plan: math, handwriting, and included a lot of good books on history, geography, and literature. I guess we’ll be fine.

From the beginning of our classical homeschooling journey, I have decided to do it scholé & contemplation style.

Scholé is festive, a celebration, it is work, but it is work of a different order. It is leisurely work. It is blurring the lines between work and the modern definition of “leisure,” – which has somehow come to mean doing nothing, blanking your mind, and watching Netflix.

Festivity is an atmosphere. It is also a lot of work.

However, the work isn’t to glorify our own reputations or build our own kingdoms; the work is done to glorify God and honor Him – it’s a sacrifice of praise. It is worship.

Mystie Winckler

Yes, its something we try to cultivate in our home. Enjoying academic work as a feast, being in scholé while working.

I’m constantly trying to balance load and absorption. Depth versus width. Thus, oral & drawing narration prove to be the “perfect” kind of test in our home.

When Jd comes home on any given Sunday and asks me what I like about the preaching of the Word, I find myself thinking long and hard, hey, I just heard it once a few hours ago.

Thus, asking the girls open-ended questions about what they just heard read-aloud from my lesson — such a TALL ORDER!

It’s easy to ask the “Who, What, Where, When” details of any given text. Retelling a read-aloud in their own words proves comprehension and understanding.

The modern schooling we have come to grow up in seems to favor “coverage” more than understanding & comprehension; favors equipping students for a certain job, than equipping them with virtue, wisdom, and character.

Yes, in our classically schooled humble abode, our ultimate goal is equipping our kids with virtue, schooling them in the Liberal Arts, teaching the Trivium, not just equipping them for jobs, but equipping them for that, and life in general.

First Day topics

Yes, our homeschool days have bumps and bruises, and its still in its infancy stage, but I am hopeful and expectant to see God’s will unfold in the girls’ lives. I would certainly rely on God’s grace everyday!

The one thing I try to remind myself of every morning, one thing I pray continually for grace to live out, is to see the bumpy patches of our day as opportunities for growth in virtue rather than as evidence of condemnation.

It’s alarming but true: the kids are learning more from the way I handle life not going my way than they do from their books and assignments. So how I manage throughout the day and how I treat them and speak to them matters far more than anything else.

Mystie Winckler

So as I start “formal” gradeschool with my eldest, I am terribly glad to be reminded that work is worship, and its ok to be not so formal about it, if you get what I mean, and let “work” bleed into leisure, and to enjoy letting home education “bleed into life,” enjoying a full life lived together in the home.

When cleaning the house, this Proverb remains to be a great reminder. Much harvest come by the strength of the ox.

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
Proverbs 14:4

The Classical Method of Homeschooling

What is Classical homeschooling? Isn’t that totally outdated and for old folks? This homeschooling is indeed based in antiquity. Think Graeco-Roman era.

Homeschooling the classical way involves the Trivium and the Quadrivium. What are those? The Trivium means Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. While the Quadrivium means Arithmetic Geometry, Astronomy, Music, plus Theology as the capstone, the chief end, or chief goal.

The Trivium ( Latin “three roads”) and Quadrivium (“four roads”) completed the seven liberal arts. The Quadrivium was taken up as the upper four divisions in a liberal arts education medieval universities. Arts back then meant “a principled study,” as opposed to todays’ fine arts.

Classical education is what Dr. Christopher Perrin says that “was eclipsed as the reigning model only about a hundred years ago after reigning for over a thousand.”

The way classical schooling goes is it cuts with the grain in childhood deveopment. Its actually the solid way of teaching for two millenia before the 19th century.

The Grammar or Poll-Parrot stage emphasizes observation and memorization, teaching the basics of language construction, this is grades K to 5. Here they memorize a lot through singing it. They easily narrate back to you what they know. Children love to repeat what they know at this stage don’t they?! They just love to know, and to tell you they know!

The Logic/Pert or Dialectic stage comes in when the child begins to argue, analyze, and contest based on what they know, thus this stage includes logic. In grades 6 to 8, they are taught how to use language to construct valid arguments. Think Cicero and Socrates.

The Rhetoric or Poetic stage includes synthesizing, and the study of ways of communicating respectfully, winsomely, and thoroughly; comprising grades 9-12. It includes the study of the great books in their original languages, learning how language can be used for effective persuasion, and acquiring wisdom and virtue in the process.

The goal of classical education is to order one’s affections. It is also generally called “character education” in times past.

Who were classically educated?

To be in the company of people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Quintilian, Copernicus, who doesn’t admire them one way or another?

Martin Luther, Charlotte Mason, Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, and Albert Einstein, or basically anyone from the Greaco-Roman era up to the last 200 years, they were all classically educated.

A Defining Inclusion

The study of Latin is also undertaken in grade 2 onwards. Latin is arguably “dead” but really, it just exists in other forms such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese. There are numerous Latin teachers, speakers and even conversationalists in podcasts today.

Why study Latin?

According to Cheryl Lowe:

  • Half of our English vocabulary came from Latin words and roots.
  • Latin provides the root words for all the modern sciences.
  • Latin is the language of law, government, logic, and theology.
  • Latin is the most efficient way to teach English grammar.
  • Latin is the best preparation for learning any language.
  • Latin is transformative, and effectively trains the mind.

“The original thinkers in the ancient world were the Greeks and the Hebrews, but it was the Romans that summarized, synthesized, codified, and handed it down to us—in Latin. It could have been Greek or Hebrew, but it wasn’t. In the providence of God, it was Latin. And now Latin has spread over the world in all of the sciences, law, five Romance languages and one hybrid: English. Latin is the most influential language in human history.”

Cheryl Lowe

So that’s for Latin. In what way do I lean then? In all these I am unashamedly teaching them Christian classical. There may be numerous schools of thought regarding styles within the classical method of education; but for our family’s intents and purposes, we intend to inform and shape our children’s deceitfully young yet moldable hearts in distinctly Christian worldview.

How is it applied today?

Todays’ international leaders, materials and curriculum providers in this field or movement are:

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Since this is a method of homeschooling, it can be done anywhere and right here in the Philippines, with the right materials, and the right homeschool provider offering a Charlotte Mason/classical-leaning curriculum, or even better, an open curriculum homeschool provider.

Free online resources include: