What does it mean to homeschool classically?

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Truth. Goodness. Beauty.

As I reflect on my experience homeschooling thus far, and think of the years to come, these three words capture my ultimate goal. Ten years ago when my family began our journey with classical education, we jumped in with both feet. I desired to expose my children to more than I had received. I wanted to enjoy the days with my sons (and now daughter) and make friends with like-minded families. I longed for value in the educational content I was choosing and quality literature to be read in my home. 

Thankfully, classical education beckons the educator and student to realize that truth, goodness, and beauty are achieved over a lifetime. They are not always acquired in every minute of every day. Rather, the journey cultivates these principles, and the conversations we have together enrich our days. I love hearing what my son thinks of a book he has read, and asking my daughter what she would have done in a character’s shoes. And the joy that I experience when they lean in to learn more about a current event or piece of history makes the time spent together worthwhile.

Life-long learning, and obtaining and nurturing the necessary skills to learn any subject, are also hallmarks of a classical education. As a mother, the realization that my children have an entire lifetime to learn all of the pieces they need to know set me free! Slowing down to address a skill that needs refining, such as paying attention to details or listening well when others speak, has become part of our everyday life. 

A classical education seeks to teach children according to the design that God created. When children are little, they learn by memorization and repetition. As they grow slightly older, they desire to understand how facts fit together. Finally, as older teens, they are able to see the beauty of their education and begin teaching others around them what they have learned. These stages are the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric and form the Trivium, which means three roads in Latin.

 I love watching my children move through these God-given stages, knowing the Creator of the universe designed my children and wants to equip me to teach them in the stage they are each currently in! 

Leigh Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations, wrote a trilogy of books on the classical model and how to practically apply its principles in teaching. These books, “The Core,” “The Question,” and “The Conversation” are an excellent way to learn the practicalities of this beautiful method of teaching. 

For the past 9 years, my family and I have been a part of a Classical Conversations (CC) community. I love seeking ways to fulfill CC’s mission, “To Know God and Make Him Known” with my children and the students in our CC community. 

Classical Conversations’ communities are designed to equip parents and students ages 4 through college credit with the love of learning and the tools needed to continue learning for a lifetime!

Parents can find more information about Classical Conversations at classicalconversations.com.

Mary Neukam is a homeschooling mom of four and a regional Support Representative for Classical Conversations.

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