This book has been on my radar for a while since I’m always looking for inspiration for homeschooling. A recent post on books about books and reading from The Modern Mrs. Darcy pushed it to the top of my reading list.
Subtitle: A Guide to Classical Education at Home
Published: originally in 1999. I read the second edition published in 2004. The newest (the fourth) edition was published in 2016.
Genre: nonfiction education
Length: 710 pages of text (but probably 1/4 of that is book lists), 810 pages total
Summary: The book describes how to provide a classical education for a child from Kindergarten through 12th grade. A classical education is language and history-intensive, and is designed to develop skill to analyze and interpret information. According to the author’s, children’s minds go through three stages of development: the grammar stage (focused on learning facts), the logic stage (learning the why of things), and the rhetoric stage (learning how to express opinions). The authors describe the classical approach to all the education topics they feel are important, and then provide specific book or curriculum recommendations for each topic. In addition, they provide a theoretical schedule for each grade, including how long to spend on each topic. The book ends with a section on how and why to homeschool.
Final thoughts: I picked the right time to read this book. Lately, I’ve been feeling like my current approach to homeschooling wasn’t going to be adequate as Mr. Curiosity moved into high school. This approach has the same goals as I do for homeschooling (creating lifelong learners who are curious about the world), but more structure. I’m having a hard time with the idea that I’m going to follow a curriculum, but, especially for history, it provides a great outline so we don’t miss any big topics. I’m not going to do everything the author’s recommend (they lay out an eight-hour school day, which seems a bit much!) but I’ll definitely add in some new topics, like outlining books, spelling, and logic.
The authors do lay out a very rigorous education plan, including many topics that most public schools no longer focus on like grammar, rhetoric, logic, and Latin. The goal is curious kids that know how to question what they are told and form opinions from source materials. While they don’t have a specific curriculum, the authors do make specific recommendations of books that cover the topics in a manner they see as appropriate. Often, there are several choices, depending on what works best for you and your child. They also make recommendations of what to do if you’re starting in the middle, since not everyone is going to start in Kindergarten. They try to make it as easy as possible for the parent to implement a classical education for their child. I’m sold! I went and bought myself a copy of the book so I can continue to use it as a resource.
Title comes from: The book is designed to develop a child with a well-trained mind.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #51 for the year
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