We are in a homecshool co-op that uses the Catholic Schoolhouse program. It uses a classical approach. There are three traditional levels of learning: the Grammar Stage (K-6th), Dialectic Stage (7th-9th), and Rhetoric Stage (10-12th). These three stages are known as the trivium.
It is the co-op’s first year, and we are small; we only have two Grammar Stage classes. God willing, as the co-op grows, we will add Dialectic and Rhetoric stages. I will describe to you what the Grammar Stage looks like.
Overview of Grammar Stage in Catholic Schoolhouse
Students in grades Kindergarten-6th grade are in the Grammar Stage of learning. They have the natural ability and curiosity to memorize. A classical approach makes the most of this God-given gift! Students focus on mastering facts each week across major fields of study (e.g., History, Religion, Geography, Math, Science, Latin, Art, etc.).
The facts that the students memorize will provide a framework for future knowledge. The facts learned can be used as springboards for further learning at home each week.
For Year 2 of Catholic Schoolhouse this year, the first semester studies the Old Testament. We have an important focus on ancient Greece and Rome. They were the basis of Western Civilization and are at the heart of a good classical education program. We can learn so much from scripture and from life in ancient Greece and Rome!
Why Memorize Facts?
The facts that Grammar students learn now will be a springboard for deeper intellectual thought as children advance to the Dialectic and Rhetoric stages, where there is a natural desire to search for God’s truth.
We want our children to turn into adults who can rationally explain points, defend the truth, and speak with accuracy. We want them to realize fallacies, and have good rhetoric skills. Their foundation of knowledge needs to be built upon true facts, and then deeper conclusions can be made. For example, if politicians or the media are making poor arguments about important subjects, we want our children to become adults who are can realize their faulty arguments. Likewise, if the Pope is speaking the truth on important controversial subjects, we want our children to become adults who can identify logical arguments and see the beauty in what the truth is.
Ultimately, we want our children to know, love, and serve the Lord in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven. We are called to raise our children to become saints. We parents are our children’s primary educators, and it is our duty to give our children the tools to live the life that God wants them to lead.
Educating our children well now will allow the Lord to maximize whatever gifts He wants our children to share with the world in the future. I don’t know what the Lord will ask of my children. I don’t know what the Lord will ask of your children. I want my children to be prepared, and I am sure you want your children to be prepared. We want our children to have the knowledge, skills, and good habits to serve the Lord in whatever capacity He wishes.
Knowledge is a gift, but it is not everything. We must have love. Saint Paul writes:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13: 1-3)
An important aspect of a classical approach is virtues. Whether you use Catholic Schoolhouse at home or if you are blessed to be in a co-op, virtues are an important aspect in raising virtuous children. We focus on one virtue per month. Tutors in all of the co-op classes (Grammar/Memory Work class, Science class, Art class, and Chorus) will mention the virtue of the month when praising children or reminding them of rules. Likewise, at home, parents focus on drawing their children’s attention to opportunities to live out the “virtue of the month” at home and in the community.
If you have been interested in a classical approach, Catholic Schoolhouse is a beautiful way to incorporate a classical approach into your homeschool life.