Does the Classical Model Meet Your Child’s Needs?

classical homeschooling child needsWhat does your particular child need in terms of education, and does the classical philosophy meet his needs? Recall that an authentic classical education in the early years is all about teaching three skills to mastery: language skills, critical thinking skills, and communication skills. Every single kid will benefit from mastering these three fundamental skills, but does your child need more structure than that?

In traditional school classrooms, the teacher is the giver of all information; generally, knowledge flows in one direction from teacher to student.  The classical homeschool allows the flexibility of using many different teaching models.  In fact, you could easily combine teaching methods to achieve mastery of the three skills.  For instance, you could use the one-direction traditional model in teaching English grammar, the project-driven teaching model for U.S. history, and the living books teaching model for hands-on science.  In this way, your homeschool child is acquiring knowledge and real-life experience while simultaneously accomplishing the goals of trivium mastery.  Nearly every child will thrive under one of the available teaching methods.  Choose what works best for your child from the spectrum ranging from traditional to unschooling.

The most remarkable feature of classical homeschooling is that you can tailor the education to your individual child.  There are no hard and fast rules of how to teach or what to include in the homeschool curriculum as long as you are progressing in trivium mastery.  Don’t let people tell you that you must teach Latin or formal logic for your education to qualify as classical; this is simply untrue.  Latin was the vernacular language of ancient Rome, and all official documents were written in either Latin or Greek.  That’s why they learned those languages…not because there was something divine about them.  Is there value in teaching Latin to a homeschool child?  Yes, of course, but if you have a child who has special needs or if your family decides Latin is not a priority, don’t sweat it.  Bring your child to mastery of English, and he will still succeed in life.

Regarding special needs, some kids face obstacles that require a different approach to education.  My first son, Davis, had special needs.  He was born with Trisomy 13, a genetic condition that would have necessitated a diverted path from classical had he survived.  I don’t even know if he could have learned to read.  Surely, I would have equipped him first with the basic skills for good living, then I would have accommodated his education to his unique physical and cognitive needs.  What kind of physical, developmental, or cognitive obstacles could steer you away from the classical philosophy?  You can work around physical obstacles.  Some kids are born blind, others are hearing impaired, and some find themselves in a wheelchair;  you could still teach the three skills although you might have to use different methods like using speech recognition software for writing and braille for reading.  Some developmental disabilities like autism or dyslexia might require a different path to learning as will intellectual hurdles due to brain trauma or genetic conditions like Down Syndrome.

Do learning styles impact your decision to give your child an authentic classical education?  No.  Each of us has a preferred learning style (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic), and most of us combine styles when we learn.  Whether your homeschool child learns best by touching, hearing, or seeing is irrelevant.  The classical philosophy of teaching three skills to mastery in the years from birth to ‘tween can be embraced with all three learning styles.

Consider the benefits and challenges of classical homeschooling then decide whether your child’s personality, limitations, and lifestyle would thrive under the classical model.  To begin your discovery, complete the following “absorb, do, and connect” activities.

Absorb Activities:

Do Activities:

Connect Activities:

When you are satisfied that the philosophy of authentic classical education could fit the abilities and interests of your child, go on to the 2nd module of “How to Homeschool” workshop: What Skills Has Your Child Mastered?