One of the favorite quotes around our homeschool is something that Mark Twain said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” That is the standard by which we run our little homeschool. Yes, schooling is important and a necessity but education is something so much bigger. I think we sometimes forget what a wonderful country this is and how many freedoms we take for granted. Those who are free to homeschool their own kids know the value of that freedom and benefit from it every day.
Those who have made the decision to homeschool their kids understand that there is so much more to learning than just attending a school. Learning is a vital process that should occur throughout a student’s educational career and then continue on through the rest of life. It’s a concept that has been around for thousands of years, since the beginning of civilization. For some reason, folks seem to have accepted the notion that learning is just for kids or for those in some sort of school. In reality, adults should be learning and stretching their horizon of knowledge every day.
Life-Long Learning, Classical Education, and the Trivium
From the first moments of life, our brain is learning and responding. A baby will respond to the sound of a mother’s voice by kicking or moving in the womb. From our first cry at birth to our last day on this earth, we are learning something. What we decide to learn, or not learn, is entirely up to us. The classical education model teaches kids to continue the learning process throughout life. I believe these classically educated homeschool kids are better suited for this world because they are taught critical thinking skills that will serve them through any situation they might encounter in life.
Life-long learning is not just teaching kids to read, write, and do math. Classical education includes teaching the trivium, a teaching method that coincides with a child’s cognitive development as they mature. The three progressive stages in order are the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages. Trivium literally means a three-fold way or road.
Children in their early stages of development have a natural affinity for seeing things in a certain way. think of how fertile your child’s imagination can be at a young age. They can literally make themselves believe anything. Kids also have a great ability to store and remember a large amount of information at this age.
The first stage of the trivium, the grammar stage, focuses on storing up lots of knowledge and facts. In the second stage of the trivium, the abilities to reason and think are sharpened. In this stage everything is processed or reasoned systematically in support of an idea, concept, or theory. In the final rhetoric stage, expression and self-discovery are stressed and cognitive abilities mature and become stronger.
Everyone who learns anything goes through this same process. A baby learning to talk starts with learning new words, moves on to put those words together to make sentences and thoughts, and finally becomes proficient in expression by use of language. Teenagers who learn to drive or folks who are learning a new computer program go through this same process. It’s a way of education that is natural to the human condition and has been proven through out the ages and it’s the way we do homeschool at our house.
Homeschooling is on the Rise in the United States
Homeschool is becoming more and more popular as an option public or private school education. The numbers show that more parents are choosing to take education into their own hands and homeschool their kids. According to Janice Lloyd at USAToday.com, the number of students who are schooled at home have continued a steady increase over the past five years. Across the U.S., the number of homeschooled children has increased an amazing 74% since 1999 when the U.S. Department of Education started keeping an eye on these statistics.
At our house, homeschooling has been very successful. Our children have been tested using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and Stanford Achievement Tests. This testing has shown our kids, age 13 and 15 years, to be above grade level in all subjects, and even at college level for some subjects. We only spend about 2 to 3 hours per day on “schooling.” The rest of our day is purely educational. Some days we go to a local national park and do some plein air painting for an afternoon. Sometimes we’ll take a day and go to a local museum, tour an historic monument, or set up a lunch meeting with someone in a career field that may interest our kids. Homeschool allows us a freedom in the way we educate our kids. At our homeschool, we don’t let schooling interfere with education. In my humble opinion, that makes for better kids, and better people throughout life.
USAToday.com; “Homeschooling Grows”
NewHorizons.org; “Lifelong Learning”
ClassicalHomeschooling.org; “Classical Chriatian Homeschooling”