Thursday, January 22, 2015

Highland Dove Homeschool Classical Education - Ages & Stages

Welcome to a peek into my homeschool

 Highland – because we are highlanders from Scotland.  My son Andrew is named after the patron saint of Scotland.  And as MacDonalds – we take our clan Donald heritage seriously.
Dove because we pray that the Holy Spirit permeates everything we do and every part of our lives.
We are a Catholic family and strive to love Jesus with every fiber of our being. 

In our school, we strive follow a Classical Model of Education
This means that, like the world view of Christendom, Christ is at the center of our studies.
Also, like the Scholastics of the Medieval period we seek God in the patterns of His creation.
We all know that God orders the season.  And we know children go through “phases”.
The Medievalists took advantage of these patterns of childhood and utilized them in HOW they taught children at different levels.

The ages in our Classical model more accurately reflect what we know today about the growth in children’s brains, while taking advantage of the “ages and stages” of children’s natural growth.

An aspect of the Classical Model is that the content of the subjects are taught “ON PURPOSE”.
The thread in our classical homeschool is history. History teaches us about who we are as humans – what we’re capable of, good and bad, and where we fit in God’s design.  We learn all this without having to live through the good, bad and the ugly of making these decisions for ourselves.  Instead,  we see others' decisions and their consequences – sometimes for all of history.  The subject of history is the thread ties many of our subjects together. 

History is tied with Literature. So while we read about a people and their time period in history, we also are reading their stories and understanding those stories, as much as we can, through their eyes. 

History and Literature are tied with Science.  So the scientific discoveries made today, standing on the shoulders of giants from scientists past, are the same names and biographies we’re reading in history and literature.

In my homeschool theology is tied in together with history.

In our Classical homeschool, all ages study the same topics at the same time – each at their own level.  I’m not trying to teach Julius Caesar to one child and trying while explaining the causes and consequences of WWI to another.  My brain can only be so divided, so this helps me as a teacher not have to keep as many balls in the air. 

The end result of this, is that the youngest students in my school feel just as capable as the high school kids to participate in a dinner discussion of the Crimean War.  Another great aspect of this is that the older kids assist the younger kids and enjoy helping them because in teaching we often learn more readily.

History follows a 4 year cycle in our Classical Homeschool on a 4 year rotating basis.

 — so the kids hit the same topics 3 times in their 12-year homeschooling career. The benefits of this are many, but one of the biggest is retention.

They’ll say, “OHHH, I remember when we studied aqua ducts and I made one out of cardboard tubes.” This means I don’t stress about them missing or not comprehending one historical personality because we’ll hit that again in 4 years.

Another benefit of our 4 year cycle is that the kids are more prepared to tackle the harder topics once they hit high school.  The Illiad isn’t so scary and daunting to tackle because these characters are as familiar to the kids as fairy tales.  Some of them are old friends and revisiting them and learning about them on a deeper level is as exciting as watching the sequel to the next superhero movie. – Well, maybe not THAT exciting.  But definitely less scary.

Our 4 Year Cycle is broken down like this: 

Year 1 - Ancients Creation - Life of Christ & the early church 

    (Beginning of recorded history – 400 AD)
We study the Ancients in History, Greek & Roman stories in Literature.  While we learn about the Ancient Egyptians and their ability to preserve bodies as mummies and do brain surgery – we’re learning Biology in science.  All the ages learn biology at the same time, on their own level. 

 Year 2 - Middle Ages (400 AD - 1500 AD) 
We study Medieval History, and Medieval Literature.  While we learn about the Crusades and the learning they brought back from what they would consider ‘the ends of the earth’ – we’re learning Astronomy and Earth Science. 

Year 3 – World History: Renaissance – Present
(1500 AD – Present)
 We study History from a World perspective.  While wonderful ideas came out of the Renaissance, some really un-Christian ideas came out as well.  To see the err in how this Modernism and Relativism has crept into our American way of thinking, we have to look at the Renaissance and its effects on its own, while also placing it in the continuity of history. We study the stories of some classic British authors we well as others in Literature of this era.  While the world learns about Pasteurization and struggles with the Spanish Flu, we learn Chemistry.  In Religion we learn how science and faith are not opposed to each other and how one nurtures and sustains the other.

 Year 4 – American History (1500 AD – 9/11/2001)
We study American History.  We are Americans and should know our own history well.  In researching other Classical Models, I saw a lack of American History in them, so needed to come up with a model I felt good about using with my students.  We also study the classics of American Literature.  While our scientists were splitting atoms in WWII, we learn Physics in science and in religion, we study the application of our faith for today’s society.

The beauty of this repeating cycle, besides easing the students into difficult concepts at an easy pace and increased retention, is that students can be “folded” into the cycle.  With several of my children, our school was on year 3 when they were ready for high school level work.  They simply began high school with Year 3, then 4 and finished up with Year 1, graduating after Year 2.

Ages & Stages
Highland Dove Homeschool Classical Education - Ages & Stages

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