Around now, some of my readers might be wondering at the title of my blog, Classical at Home. Why “Classical” and what does that mean? Classical Education can mean different things. It can mean ascribing to an educational process that involves three steps, usually referred to as the Trivium. Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric are not merely subjects in and of themselves, but also correspond to developmental stages in children, and are methods of teaching subjects as well. For example, a young child who is capable of memorizing large quantities of information, but not necessarily comprehending relationships or definitions is said to be in the Grammar Stage. There is also the subject of Grammar, or studying how language is organized. Then there is a grammatical study of any subject, through memorization of foundational information. For example, to study the grammar of history may involved the memorization of names, dates, battles, and monarchs, but will not necessarily include why wars were fought or how the history relates to philosophy or geography of the region. A tip of the hat for the revival of Classical Education belongs to the great Susan Wise Bauer, author of the seminal text for Classical Homeschoolers, The Well Trained Mind. In it she outlines not only what classical education includes, but also recommends specific curriculum, texts and age/grade appropriate schedules. It’s an intimidating book, both inspiring me to do more and better and making me feel as though I could never possibly accomplish it all.
Classical education sometimes includes training in classical languages, Greek and Latin. And lastly, classical education sometimes means an education which prepares one for engagement with the canon of western literature. This version is often credited to Mortimer Adler for his contribution to the revival of the Great Books.
When I say we are Classical at Home, I mean all these things, and also a few more. Everything that is now considered classical was once current, in some other time and place. It’s popularity transcended it’s location and era and carried it to us. It has something eternal to say about things that are universally important to people. There is something new to glean from it upon every reading, at different stages of an individual’s life.
The same is true for great poetry, artistic and musical masterpieces. Bach never goes out of style. DaVinci never ceases to impress.
In our house, we listen to great music, pay attention to great artists, and read great books. Actually, with my children’s current ages, 7 and 4, we read really good books. Newbury Award winners and Caldecott Winners are always a good choice. Classic nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and Bible stories are all good for the imagination, the soul, developing literacy and vocabulary, and are referenced in Western literature and poetry so often that a lack of familiarity impacts future education. Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology is fascinating and has links to science though the names of plants, animals, and stellar bodies.
Understanding ourselves as connected to a rich, varied, and interesting past and drawing on that heritage is classical. That is why we are Classical at Home.
Some recommended resources for Classical Education for children:
Story of the World, Susan Wise Bauer ( We listen to the CDs in the car and the workbooks are delightful. The books are excellent for reading aloud or for older children to read to themselves.)