I hope to sit down soon and post a blog that goes into more detail about our homeschooling and the new program we have been a part of this past year. But until that happens, this is a little snippet of what we joined up with last fall. It is called Classical Conversations and it is a program/community that follows the classical education model for teaching and learning from the pre-K years all the way through high-school. I will provide more details on what that entails in that someday-to-happen-sometime-off-in-the future post, but if you want to read a little bit about it now, you can do so by by clicking here.
According to this Classical model, our girls are currently in the “grammar stage.” This is said to be the first stage of learning and it is where they are taught and filled up with lots and lots and lots (and lots more) of the basic terms and facts associated with a subject. The understanding of these facts is not the focus, it is just the accumulation of such that is stressed. And then all these facts becomes little “pegs” from which further knowledge can more easily hang on. This knowledge then leads into more understanding of the various subjects. Which is the pathway to great comprehension and a love of life-long learning for the the places, people, and events of our world and the creation around them. Now I do realize that I made quite the jump from stage one and the accumulation of facts to stage 3 and a love for life-long learning and great comprehension and wisdom, but in the link above it is all defined and explained really well! The subjects our girls are going through in this curriculum (and will continue on with through the high-school years) are Latin, Geography, History, Math, Science, English and a timeline of events from the beginning of history through present. It has been such an amazing thing to see that my girls’ minds, along with all the other children in their group, can hold all this information!!
Here is a quick summary of what those facts included through our 1st year of Cycle 1 Classical Conversations:
✔ 161 events and people in a chronological timeline
✔ 44 U.S. presidents
✔ 24 history sentences that add depth to their timeline
✔ 120 locations and geographic features in Africa, Europe, South America, and the Old World
✔ 24 science facts (including classifications of living things and each continent’s highest mountain)
✔ Latin and English noun cases, and 5 Latin noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
✔ English grammar facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs)
✔ Multiplication tables up to 15×15, common squares and cubes, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions
And while I do feel that what Halle did is an incredible accomplishment, because the mastery of all these facts did take extra diligence and studying on her part, I also want to say that the accumulation of facts in the minds of children is not something that only a few can do. Children’s brains are naturally inclined to memorize a H-U-G-E deal of information. And I was able to see the proof of that with just how much Dee and Gracie have been able to learn and retain this past year. They can say from memory ALL the timeline facts and presidents. They can say all the geography from memory (they just struggle with pointing to it all on a map). They know about 90% of the history sentences and science facts, but with a little prompting can get through the ones they struggle remembering on their own. They also know all of the English we covered in the year. The Latin noun declensions are hit or miss, sometimes they say them correctly, other times they don’t. And the Math is still a work in progress :-) So all that to say, if you know anything about Dee and Gracie, (and you have observed how they are not quite as gifted as Halle when it comes to academic things), you can see that all children’s minds can do this!
Now please hear this one more important thing I really want to convey with this post. It is important to me that all this said accumulated knowledge does not come across in an arrogant or puffed-up manner, that is far from my intent. Even though I am super proud to have seen how much information my girls are taking in and are memorizing, and that Halle worked hard to achieve Memory Master, there is something greater to my heart in all of this. The foundation for my excitement really lies in that I consider it a wonderful privilege and blessing to be a part of this Classical education style. All these little grammar facts that are being stored up in our girls’ mind (and mine too) are becoming to us like a new set of lenses for us to wear and see the world with. Life around us, events that have occurred, and places on the globe are becoming so much more rich and alive and real!
Because of the geography learned this year, we can hear mention of the island of Crete when we read from the book of Titus and see where that is in our minds, sitting out there in the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and Greece. We now know where in the world the Red Sea is and the Sinai Peninsula, which makes the story of the Exodus and wandering in the desert something we can grasp more fully. When the news talks about the Gaza Strip and the Middle East, or our church sends a missions trip over there, we know the references and can point exactly to those places on a map. Historical points in time that we might come across in our read-aloud books, or our American Almanac, or the Bible find their place in the master timeline the girls learned. And then those things are able to have a more permanent and concrete place in their minds because they know other events that were going on during that same period, or leading up to it. I really could elaborate more and more on this elation of my feeling super privileged because of this information the girls are storing up, but I will stop here. Just know that I am super proud of Halle to be able to recite with perfection and mastery all of this in one sitting.
Halle, you rock!!!