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Continuing to deconstruct the Classical Tradition, today is about the Dialectic years. If you missed the Grammar years you can read that here.
Let us define the Dialectic years.
Dialectic is the second road in the Trivium of classical education. These years are comprised of 11-year-olds until 16ish. You will recognize this age group as having one foot in the child’s imagination and the other in teenage-hood.
These children are best known for:
- Always wanting to know “why?” and having a simple answer rarely stops their curiosity. They are ready to discover the solution to the problem themselves.
- They are more willing to learn on their own.
- Hormones cannot be overstated as being a big contributor to their sleep patterns and food intake. Not to mention their attitudes.
- These children are wanting both a hug from you and space from you.
- There are new boundaries that have to be set. Friends, electronics, extracurricular activities, and more school work.
- Their willingness to accept your answer as “the gospel” is still there but they are looking to others for confirmation.
Teaching implications for the Dialectic years.
So now what? You find yourself in the midst of this age group and as a homeschooling mom, you want to stay the course. However, along with the hormones and extra school work, these years are making it hard to imagine continuing to keep them home. I am here to give you some tools that will help you teach and thrive during these years. Don’t give up when they need you the most!
1. Always wanting to know “why?”
- It is important to understand this “why” is not the young pointing at everything and asking “why?’ This new question is, in fact, wanting to hear the solution to whatever problem these children see around them. The “why” a dialect student is asking is in regards to connecting the dots and seeing a larger picture. It’s no longer enough to memorize copious amounts of data they want to know how and why they are even memorizing it, to begin with.
- The key to answering this question as a parent and teacher is to help them discover the answer they seek. In the classical tradition, we use a tool called “The 5 Common Topics.”
- During the dialect years as the parent and teacher, it is imperative that you become a master question asker. You ask questions of the child in order to help them solve the problem. No one knows your child as you do, therefore you know exactly what to ask for them. We don’t want to just give answers to their questions but rather teach them how to find what they seek through asking good questions.
- Leigh Bortins wrote a book called “The Question” where she breaks down each subject and how it would be taught using The 5 Common Topics. I highly recommend it if you are homeschooling this age group or will be soon enough.
2. Independent learner
- Gaining independence is strong with this age group. They are wanting to do more and more without the aid of their parent, and parents this is a good thing.
- As their parent and teacher, we can use their independent nature to give them more opportunities to do their work alone. We set up a clear schedule during the day and allow them the freedom to manage it. Yes! They will fail at getting their work done. You might check in on them and they’ve been sitting for an hour with one math problem done. Don’t panic! Reign them back in. Have them sit where you can see them again until you feel they are ready to try again.
- Mom’s you are committed to the long haul with these precious children. They need your wisdom here and patients as they make mistakes and learn from them. Not every one of their mistakes will be a direct reflection of you and whether or not you are a good mom/teacher. The path is never straight but filled with hills and valleys. Some weeks you’ll go forward 10 steps only to find yourself 12 steps back next week.
- Dialectic students must be given grace as they are struggling with hormones. These necessary changes can wreak havoc in your homeschool. The once complaisant child you had yesterday is now sleeping and eating machine, who magically seems to know everything.
- This might be the time you have the local school on speed dial. All your visions of a classical education are going up in flames and you thought toddler-hood was hard. The consolation is that they do sleep through the night.
- Fear, not
parent! These days will pass, and much like those toddler years, you will have more good days than bad. It is important to keep everything in perspective. You cannot be their everything. We can give them the best and trust God for all of it. Pray a lot, read your bible, and trust that God will give you wisdom during this season.
- Yes, homeschooling hormonal teenagers
ishard, but I can’t find anything in scripture to assume it would be easy. Your hormonal child needs you more than ever. Now is not the time to abdicate your role.
4. A hug and a push
- Along with the hormonal ups and downs, these kids want to know you are there for a hug but also emotionally secure when they push back.
- It’s time you realize these kids are not going to be yours forever. You are training them for the world and one day they will leave.
- They need you to be secure enough in who you are in Christ that you allow them space to make friends, to not share every detail with you, and look to others for confirmation. Help them to distinguish good friends and give them opportunities to cultivate friendships. Seek Godly men/women for them to spend time with who share the same values as your home. Let God’s goodness and His word be in surround sound.
- Moms take this time to pursue God. Read scripture while the kids are sleeping and allow your identity to be in Christ alone. It cannot be in anything or anyone else. Fear awaits you during these years if you are not on solid ground.
- Boundaries are not often built overnight. They are constantly being pushed upon and rebuilt by you, which can be exhausting. Do it anyway.
- I am a big believer in helping my kids to set and recognize boundaries.
- We sit down each day and write out a task list for homeschooling together. Both of my kids have a student calendar that we fill out and I check at the end of the day.
- I don’t say no to electronics. We have time allowances and I believe teaching them to manage time is more useful for their future than denying them electronics.
- Both my kids are limited in their extracurricular activities. Both of them do one sport and the practice of that sport is not up for debate. Loyalty is huge in our family and if someone is counting on you to be somewhere and you are not broken or bleeding there is no
excussto miss practice.
- I hate to break it to you, but someday they will want to hear confirmation from someone else besides you.
- Get them involved in youth group and allow others (whom you have chosen) to speak into their life.
- Make sure you know the friends parents and Lord willing they have the same values as your house.
- Involve them in activities with Godly men/women who speak truth over them.
- You have the ultimate authority over your kids, given to you by God, and no one should ever have that except you. Therefore you vet the mentors first. You become or stay active in your church community. Developing relationships with other families and see what God does.
One of the biggest reasons for classical education in our house has been the ability to teach according to my child’s natural traits. I didn’t want to teach against the grain or push my kids into a mold they weren’t designed to fill. I love that there is space to allow for extra sleep and independent activities. Homeschooling is so much more than academics and with a classical education, we can see that it is nurturing the whole child.
If I have left something out that you would like to add regarding the dialectic years please leave a comment here or where ever you find me on social media.
Keep going parents! There is much fruit to glean from these years.