There are 3 stages in classical education called the trivium. The first stage, the grammar stage, runs through the elementary years ending when the children become argumentative around age 10 or 11.
Basics of Classical Education
Children in this stage love memorizing and cheerfully agree with you about everything.
It’s obvious when your child moves out of the grammar stage. They argue with you at every turn. Welcome to the pert or logic stage! This stage runs through the pre-teen or middle school years.
Gradually the child stops arguing with you at every turn, instead you find yourself having deep philosophical discussions about the state of the world or why people are not logic. This last stage is the rhetoric stage, when the now young adult is developing their world view.
For many homeschoolers using the classical model, history (not Latin) is at the center of the education. Literature, writing, geography, fine arts, philosophy, and government can all be taught in and around history. History provides the systematic framework to develop the young mind over 12 years.
A 4 year rotation through history works well with the classical model. One year studying the ancients, one year on the middle ages and reformation, a year on the early modern period, and a year studying modern times.
Other curricula and programs break the years 2 and 3 differently, but the idea is the same.
Grammar Students Lay the Foundation
The little grammar students are busy laying the foundation. Young children love memorizing lists, even if they don’t know what the lists mean.
So the students memorize history lists, learn their parts of speech, and memorize their multiplication tables.
They also spend plenty of time doing historical activities. They can make pyramids out of sugar cubes, mummify chickens, and color pictures of pharaohs.
The idea isn’t to cram as much information as possible into their little brains but rather to lay the foundation for future studies.
Teach Argumentative Preteens to Argue with Logic
Children in the pert stage love to argue, so it’s the perfect time to teach them logic and argumentation using a text such as Discovery of Deduction.
This rotation through the 4 years of history the student is concentrating on making connections. Why did Napoleon sell Louisiana to President Jefferson? How did conditions in Europe affect his decision?
The student tends not to have as much interest in completing projects nor do they have as much time in their school day as the younger children as independent research takes a larger role in their studies.
Rhetoric Stage Analyzes the World
Once the student reaches the rhetoric stage, they usually have a good grasp of world and American history from their 2 previous passes through the world stage. This time around they’re analyzing what is happening on a deeper level.
How does government progress and change through the ages? Is this a good thing? What is the difference in character between George Washington and Napoleon?
Did the difference change the way the 2 nations developed after the American and French revolution?
It’s a time for the students to synthesize their learning from the previous 8 or more years to develop a personal world view to carry into adulthood.