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3 Things Parents Should Know About Classical Education

Choosing the right school for your child is not an easy task. Knowing what type of education you want your child to have can help. There are many broadly defined types. Play-based education that focuses on allowing a child to learn through imagination and manipulating toys and objects is popular among many parents of children from preschool age through the early elementary grades. Others prefer a more academic approach, such as what can be found in most modern public schools. Still others choose democratic schools, where children and teenagers choose what they learn about and how their schools run. And there is another choice that is growing more popular among private schooling and homeschooling parents – a classical education. If you're wondering whether a classical education might be right for your child, check out a few things you should know about it.

Three Stages of Learning

A classical education is usually divided into three stages. The youngest children are in the "grammar" stage, the middle grades make up the "logic" stage, and the oldest students, usually beginning at high school age, are said to be in the "rhetoric" stage.

According to the principles of classical education, the grammar stage of education is for memorizing facts. Poems, spelling rules, math rules, phonics rules, the dates of important historical events, the capitals of states and countries, the classifications of different plants and animals, and vocabulary words – both in English and in other languages considered important to classical education enthusiasts, like Latin and Greek – take up the bulk of these early years.

In the logic stage, children are taught to support and defend a thesis statement, conjugate Latin verbs, work with algebraic formulas, and focus on the study of logic and cause and effect. Finally, in the rhetoric stage, students are expected to think deeply, apply mathematical knowledge, and communicate effectively in writing.

The Goal of a Classical Education

"Truth, goodness, and beauty" is the mantra behind classical education. This style of learning is not concerned with preparing students for a job or for college (though either of those things can certainly be a side effect of a classical education.) Instead, the focus is on exposing students to languages, philosophies, and great art and literature. They are also expected to learn how to think logically, calculate correctly, and formulate and test a hypothesis.

In other words, the idea behind classical educations is creating cultured, informed, and knowledgeable adults, not future workers or future college students. However, it's generally accepted that cultured, informed, and knowledgeable students make good college students and good workers. Many classical schools – though not all – also have a goal of imparting Christian views and values to their students.

The Benefits of a Classical Education

Classical education does have some observable benefits for students who choose to attend college later. Statistics from the Association of Classical and Christian Schools show that students from their member schools typically score higher on standardized test scores, like the SAT, than students in public schools. Those scores may be a result of the classical education's focus on Latin. Learning Latin has been shown to increase student SAT scores and improve students' chances of getting into college.

Classical education is also good for students and parents who value art, literature, and music. During a time when these things are being cut in public schools to make way for more testing time, a school offering a classical education that prizes arts and humanities may be a haven for kids that are interested in or talented in the arts.

If you've been looking for a different educational path for your children, classical education may be the model that you've been looking for. Take a tour of a school offering classical education in your area, and talk to the teachers and administrators. This will help you decide if classical education is the right fit for your family. 


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