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Would you wonderful ladies help me ?


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I am very interested in(but not very familiar with) classical education. I am going to check out The Well Trained Mind book this afternoon from the library. But would you please help me get started? Could you list the most important things I need to get started? And if you have used any materials that you especially like, could you please tell me a little about them? I would be using these for children ages 10 and under.


Thanks so much for your help!:001_smile:

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My oldest is only four, so I'm taking this whole year to research...stuff. :001_smile: I don't know how much time you have (it sounds like you'll be starting soon!) but I'm reading/have read some books that are helping me develop a philosophy of education (and methods).


Check out The Latin-Centered Curriculum, by Andrew A. Campbell and How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren.


But since I haven't officially started, I can't really give you specifics!

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Because TWTM is my favorite homeschooling book, it is what I use to plan everything. I really like all of the different books/programs that SWB and JW have written, they fit in with their philosophy wonderfully (go figure). My kids are younger the oldest just turned 7, so I'm not sure for your olders (10 is older at my house). The only difference is I have discovered that I need a math and a science curriculum, but I like science to fit with the WTM (life science, earth science/astronomy, chemistry, physics - repeat 3x).

Good Luck:001_smile:

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Classical education in WTM is a marriage of formal bookwork and reading the classics. You can "do" a purer form of classical ed by following the philosophy of Charlotte Mason - and learn by almost exclusively reading. I recommend reading Campbell's book (LCC, mentioned above) after you've read WTM so you can understand the role of Latin, and of reading classics.


You may also want to read A Thomas Jefferson Education, and the book Leadership Education (especially the 55 ingredients) by the DeMille's. The TJEd books lay out a philosophy of education and how to incorporate that philosophy into your home. TJEd is not a curriculum, it is a helpful philosophy. TJEd has a different break up of the stages of learning - you will be able to see the hamrony and use both philosophies (TJEd and WTM) in your home. Also look into unschooling - there is much to learn about early childhood learning in this area. Many unschooling ideas may be applied to formal ed as well - knowing attachment parenting and organic learning philosophies will help free you and break up the monotony of WTM.


The most important thing to know is the philosophy behind the stages and approximate grades that each stage correlates to as your child grows. The advice on study habits and curriculum recommendations in the book have been beyond exceptional for us. The time to devote to study was not helpful for our life rhythm (we're more organic with our day and yearly schedule). Both of my children tested far above grade levels last year (dd11 and ds8). It is time intensive for the parent during the Grammar stage - and you will become frustrated and burned out at times. The Logic stage brings great rewards in that your child will have a broad base to work with and continue to grow.


Below are some thoughts on the WTM stages:


Grammar stage: Grades K-4


  • At this stage, kids are getting the basics down for math, spelling and grammar. The key is to be slow and steady.
  • Reading poetry, short stories, fables, and longer, classic books helps develop vocabulary, and through discussion, character.
  • Family reading and discussion of science and history stories will help your child understand these areas. You do not need a formal science program. Many hs'ers use Susan Wise Bauer's book, Story of the World (vol. 1 - 4). Your child will progress from drawing pictures while you are reading; to narrating the story back to you after it is read; then finally, writing a short paragraph on the reading topic. Hands on science and history activities reinforce concepts found in your reading, and will take you to new places of interest as they unfold in your child.
  • For writing, they should be able to write a three paragraph report with ease by the end of fourth grade. If you are writing short science and history reports and are doing a rigorous grammar program (Rod and Staff), it's my opinion and experience that you do not need a formal writing program.
  • Adding Latin will GREATLY increase vocabulary and grammar skills. Reading about Romans will bring in introductory works in history and political science that can be expanded upon in the next stages. Latin will also help with law and science terms.

Logic stage: Grades 5-8


  • Children should have the basics down by this time. For math this means: multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, simple fractions, and simple geometry. Continue working on manipulating numbers and building geometry skills. Work a lot with interpreting data, building and reading graphs.
  • For grammar, your child should really "know" the eight parts of speech, and be able to identify them in sentences. Consider moving exclusively to Latin for your grammar needs, or continue with a grammar program that has lots of sentence diagramming.
  • You can begin to use a formal science and history program, or continue reading living science/history books about various topics. Begin to read actual documents. Instead of fun play, projects get more involved (timelines, filling out more elaborate results recording sheets for experiments, beginning to connect people with other people and things in each era).
  • Begin a formal writing program - and stick with it. Your child has all the basics - it's now time to have fun experimenting with different writing styles.
  • Concentrate on building life skills (consumer math, cooking, simple repairs, home maintenance)
  • Consider adding a second foreign language.
  • Help your child recognize subject and extracurricular areas that they naturally excel in and work to further develop those areas. Also help them continue to explore new hobbies and interests.

Rhetoric stage: Grades 9-12


  • Continue experimenting with formal writing styles (thesis, law, etc). Keep reinforcing grammar (you may not need a formal program at this stage if you've been writing and working diligently in the past). Combine writing in different styles with deeper study and work in history, art, music, science, math, literature.
  • Continue working on math until you take college tests, after which, proceed with higher math, or read about math through living math books (see Dover classics online for their math and science series).
  • Understand various research and methods for scientific reports. Take an introductory to statistics course, or home study. Moving forward with formal science work in Biology, Astronomy, Chemistry and Physics is ideal.
  • Encourage apprenticeships, work, volunteering, or begin a business based on a passion. Continue to delve deeper into study of this passion.


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It will be difficult to answer your question without over-loading ou--as you can see!


The brilliant thing about TWTM is that it encourages a rigorous education at all stages--but it leaves the decisions about HOW to follow the plan completely up to you.


TWTM is a language arts based program. The authors state this many times. History and Science exist as fodder for writing--the content is important, of course--but that's its "roll" the the WTM approach.


WTM also takes the trivium and breaks down your expectations of what the child should be doing in each stage.


Grammar stage: Memorization and familiarity with content.


Logic Stage: making connections--both across curricula (How did art influence science? Why was Newton's experiments with trajectories important for warfare, how did it affect the building of castles and fortifications?) and between events and concepts (how did the plague affect the class structure of the Medieval period?)


Rhetoric: Now the student begins to express his own well-thought out opinion and starts to advance theses. (I haven't read this section in too much detail, yet!)


Grammar stage skills: Know the parts of speech. Copywork. Narrations and dictation.


Logic stage skills: Diagram sentences (take the parts of speech together and apart) Narrations in paragraph form, outlining, writing up experiment reports, and book summaries. Discussion and discussion and discussion: it's expected that oral skills will exceed one's writing skills for a while--just as talking preceeds writing in the early years.


Have fun! This is a wonderful journey--and remember, take what you need, leave the rest and ask lots and lots of questions!

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Could you list the most important things I need to get started? And if you have used any materials that you especially like, could you please tell me a little about them? I would be using these for children ages 10 and under.


You'll need:


- a library card (we regularly fill 3 :)) and a wagon to tow all those books home :) (see WTM science, history, and lit. book lists)

- lots of lined paper

- lots of plain paper

- a hole punch

- lots of three ring binders (to keep their work organized)

- lots of pencils and erasers

- markers and crayons if your kids like to draw - maybe stickers and glitter, anything to decorate their narrations if they like




- math curriculum for each child

- grammar curriculum for each child

- some type of writing curriculum, depending on child's age and your knowledge of teaching writing

- spelling curriculum

- something to teach how to read, for those that can't read yet

- a "spine" (book which you read and can branch out into related topics from) for history

- a "spine" for science

- a literature book list that goes with the period of history you are studying


I like and use:


- Rod and Staff math, because the teacher's manual tells me what to do and how to teach every step. It also has a reputation of being very thorough.


- First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise, because it is a gentle, thorough introduction to grammar for grades 1 and 2.


- Rod and Staff grammar/writing, for the same reasons as the math (but if you used First Language Lessons for grades 1 and 2, you could use First Language Lessons levels 3 and 4, which are new since I had a child in 3rd grade, then move to another grammar program at grade 5)


- The Well Trained Mind and Susan Wise Bauer's CD Writing Without Fear to teach me how to teach basic writing skills in grades 1 to 4. In place of her writing CD, you could also buy her new book, Writing With Ease. It will walk you through everything you need to know for teaching basic skills. She is also writing a middle grades writing program and eventually a high school writing program. She has taken the mystery out of writing for me.


- Writing Road to Reading for teaching how to read and how to spell (I don't use the writing and grammar portions of it). The book is cheap and thorough, and it uses multisensory methods (see, say, hear, write). All you need for each child are a pencil and a composition notebook. You can make your own flashcards, too, to use for everyone.


- Story of the World series for history. I just use the reading book, not the extra activity book. I like it because it hits the highlights of history from ancient to modern, in a storytelling way.


- For science, I just use whatever is recommended in The Well Trained Mind. I've used the recommended ones for grades 1 to 4, and used the study methods outlined in it, and it has worked out great. We're currently using the grade 5 recs, too.


- The Well Trained Mind literature lists that go along with history - we've checked out probably thousands of books from the library using these lists.


Hope this helps! I have loved using the Well Trained Mind book as our guide to homeschooling.

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I think the most important thing to remember is it is a guide, not a law! You don't have to follow the recommendations if you find something that appeals to you more. For example, I love their recommendations for most subjects, but wasn't too keen on the science or maths. After keeping my eyes open on this board, and reading other online reviews, I found something different. It is supposed to work for you, you don't have to work for it, kwim?



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or want to get started simply here's what I suggest. Just read the grammar section in TWTM for now. (The other classical ed books suggested sound good and many are on my reading list, but I have not gotten to them yet in 4 years!). Besides I had read other Classical Education books and I still didn't get what the fuss was about- The Well Trained Mind finally gave me that aha! moment and explained everything in a way that made sense to me. Plus the authors' focus is on materials that are affordable and easy for the homeschool mother to use. This doesn't mean you are limited to their suggestions. I'm just saying you can't go wrong starting with their suggestions. As you go along you can modify.


If you want curriculum suggestions:


Ordinary Parent's Guide To Teaching Reading (phonics for the young ones)


Story of The World Volume 1 & Activity Guide for History (you can use it with all 3.) You can use it as is, or add supplemental literature as you go along. Many suggestions are in the Activity Guide and also in TWTM.


First Language Lesson for the Well Trained Mind (grammar for first and second grade)


The above are all available from Peace Hill Press.


Rod and Staff 4 for your 10 yo for First Language Lessons 4 (Grammar)


Spelling Workout (10 year old only. Start spelling with the others only after they've mastered reading)


A Math Curriculum (we use Horizons, which is not mentioned in TWTM - there are so many opinions on Math Programs, but they all do the job, just differently. I find Horizons easy to use, but many swear by Saxon)


Science (you can do this according to the WTM suggestions or use something else. Science curriculums abound. We use the topics for each year suggested in TWTM, but different books for those topics)


Then lots of literature and I think you're set! Oh, handwriting - we use Zaner Bloser (rec. in TWTM) and order directly from them.


Again, it's not that you HAVE to use TWTM books, but I honestly have found their recommendations the easiest to use and the most effective. I started with their suggestions initially, but then shopped around, and have come back. There's lots of good stuff out there, but it can get overwhelming. My suggestion is to start with TWTM suggestions, then tweak it and makes changes each year or as you go along and get the hang of things. You have to give any curriculum a bit of time for you and your kids to get the hang of things.



Sherri in MI

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