Now that you have determined that the classical model meets your child’s needs, you are ready to assess your child’s mastery of the three skills of the trivium. Over the years, you will revisit this portion of your own personal classical homeschooling makeover many times as your child grows in maturity and ability. Classical homeschooling and skills mastery is a fluid process, so you will grade the skills many times over the next four, eight, or twelve years.
You will recall that the three skills of the classical trivium are broadly called grammar, logic, and rhetoric; however, on my own journey towards authentic classical homeschooling, I decided that I needed to break these broad categories down into practical, measurable skills to help me determine mastery in baby steps. For instance, learning the language actually requires the homeschool child to master several skills including how to read, how to spell, and how to use proper grammar. So, I brainstormed. Of all the possible sub-skills of language, critical thinking, and communication skills, which ones were essential to mastery?
Like the classical Romans, I considered trivium mastery to be an extended journey; therefore, I called my mastery checklists “road maps” to help me arrive at my destination. All three road maps represent my personal goals for achieving mastery; you may find additional skills that you want to teach, so feel free to add or delete from the road map. I use these three checklists at least twice a year in determining whether my children have substantially mastered the skills. Additionally, I use the results of the mastery assessment to customize the homeschool curriculum for the semester.
In order to make this process easier for you, I have recreated all three “Road Maps for Mastery” in a table format using a scale of 1 to 6 developed by John Milton Gregory in his book, The Seven Laws of Teaching:
1 – He knows nothing about…
2 – He is somewhat familiar with…
3 – He can generally describe the steps to…
4 – He can illustrate and explain how to…
5 – He is beginning to understand the deeper truths of…
6 – He is changing his behavior because of…
Open each road map below (Connect Activities), and decide where your child falls on the scale of 1 to 6 for each skill. Pull examples of his work (for example, writing samples or math problems), have him read excerpts from increasingly difficult books, and conduct a conversation with him to determine his mastery status. For example, if I were assessing your son’s mastery of “how to properly use grammar,” I might ask him to name the eight parts of speech and give an example of each. (If any of the skills stump you…that is, you can’t remember the answers yourself…consult the Appendices of Trivium Mastery if you have a copy). Place a check mark in the appropriate column.
To begin your discovery, complete the following “absorb, do, and connect” activities.
- Watch Reading Skills interactive tutorial (1:29)
- Watch Critical Thinking Skills interactive tutorial (1:29)
- Watch Writing and Speaking Skills interactive tutorial (1:27)
- Download a free electronic copy of John Milton Gregory’s original Seven Laws of Teaching
- Did you know some researchers say it takes 10 years and 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert?
- Consider 1st Road Map: Reading Skills
- Browse articles on teaching English and reading skills
- Examine 2nd Road Map: Thinking Skills
- Explore ideas on how to build critical thinking skills
- Compare 3rd Road Map: Speaking Skills
- Choose posts on speaking and writing skills
- Take notes while you watch Seven Laws of Teaching slideshow
- Complete Road Map to Mastery of Reading Skills
- Complete Road Map to Mastery of Critical Thinking Skills
- Complete Road Map to Mastery of Communication Skills
- Decide if your personal road maps require additional “essentials, maybes, or no ways.”
When you have sufficiently documented your child’s trivium skills mastery, go on to the next question of “How to Homeschool” workshop: What Homeschool Curriculum Do You Need in the Plan?