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Welcome to the beginning of a
What are the ages and or stages of the Grammar years?
Most of us reading this blog went to “grammar school” from the age of 5-12. More recently “grammar school” is called “elementary school” but you get the idea.
This stage in Classical Education really begins when the child starts learning, which you could make the case that begins very soon after birth. As soon as your baby starts to recognize you, and the difference between you and dad, and other people is the beginning of their education. For our purposes in this post, I’ll refer to the Grammar years as a toddler to 12 years old.
What are the characteristics of a Grammar aged kid?
If you have birthed, baby sat, or otherwise known a toddler you already know some defining characteristics.
- Like to have you tell them the words of everything they see.
- They will then repeat those words back to you (which could be interesting and fun. say “spaghetti” was always my favorite).
- Books are memorized, music lyrics, and cartoons.
- Firm bonds of trust that you’ll always be there are formed.
- Imagination is everything. Dressing up, acting out, and pretending to be anything other than themselves.
- This age still thinks you know everything.
So what are the teaching implications for this age/stage of kid? What do I do with them in the Classical tradition?
Your baby/toddler likes to hear you speak and name everything in site, so you do just that. Naming everything while you sit, eat, and go about your day helps them learn. Those words give their world context and the beginnings of language.
In the garden of Eden Adam’s first “job” was to name all the animals, which allowed him to see that there was nothing suitable for him. Adam learned and became wise through the act of naming.
I know that we tired of hearing our own voice but your child doesn’t. They want more and more of the same so get used to repeating
Read it again, say it again, watch that movie again, and one more time to push play. The Grammar years are spent on repeat and memorization. Kids LOVE to memorize everything! In the Classical Tradition because kids memorize so easily in the early years we like to make sure they memorize quality information. This is a great season to have them memorize their math facts through skip counting. We teach them their alphabet and over 70 phonograms in order to make words. Math comes with facts that need memorizing in order to understand operations.
Because they like to memorize and they will give them content that will create “pegs” in their brains for later understanding.
The Bible puts learning in the order of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Knowledge is downloaded information, understanding is processing that knowledge and wisdom is the act of being obedient, or in the case of education passing the knowledge off to someone else.
- Math: Skip counting, drilling math facts, manipulative, games, counting everything.
- Language Arts: Alphabet and phonograms. Letters have sounds and sounds strung together to make words.
- Science: Walk with them and allow them to be curious. Point small things out and big things. Go slowly. Make fun experiments in the kitchen. Cook with them. There is no need for a formal program here.
- History: Read! Read stories that have a historical context. Visit museums in your area. Make maps of your home, city, state, and country together. They are part of your families history so start there. Make your history matter!
- Foreign Language: In our Classical homeschool we study Latin. In the Grammar years, we memorize endings of all the Declensions, and Conjugations.
- Writing: Unless they are begging to write, use this space to practice penmanship, and writing the basics. Name, address, family members and such. Please don’t give them a piece of paper and ask them to write about their day. They need a formal writing program to help make sense of how to write. Let them talk to you about their day or act it out. Writing is for later.
- Last but not least, read to them.
Firm bonds are made in these early years, so homeschooling is a place where they can learn and rest knowing your right there. The anxiety of drop off, making friends, playing nice, is off the table because they are home with you.
Kids in the Grammar years still believe you hung the moon, and dad is a super hero. Just go with it! Don’t take their trust lightly and squander it by little white lies. Let your kids learn to trust you and what you say to them. If something hurts help them gauge how much. Leave fairy tales in books and let God be the only one who meets all their needs in the real world. The act of you being honest will pay off in those teenage years.
The Grammar years can feel like an eternity of hard speckled with some great.
As a homeschooler in the Classical tradition, my hope for you is that you will put away the workbooks, and busy work and follow the examples of those who have gone before. The lengthy science projects and papers will get written but the enjoyment of wonder has its time in those early years.
Enjoy your kids!
Stay tuned for the Dialectic and Rhetoric years!