Have you ever been embarrassed by your small child repeating something you said? Or swore only to hear your angelic three-year-old repeat you verbatim? Welcome to the grammar stage!
The years when children parrot everything you say!
The grammar stage in classical education usually covers the elementary years. It begins almost from the time the kids are born.
If you haven’t noticed, preschoolers love to imitate everything!
And ends about the time kids enter puberty.
During this time of life, children absorb information like sponges and parrot everything around them. They’ll absorb jingles from commercials, lists of random facts, and silly songs.
And they repeat everything they hear ad nauseam.
The grammar stage is horrifying when it comes to adult language, especially when you swear while driving only to hear your little 4yo repeat every word you just said!
At the same time, it gives you a wonderful opportunity when it comes to educating your kids.
An opportunity to lay a foundation of memorization and skills
Foundation of Memorization and Skills
Classical education finds this period in children’s development to encourage kids to memorize lists of pharaohs, US presidents, states, and capitals. Learn the parts of a cell.
Teach children about current events by learning who is the mayor of your city, the governor of your state, or the president of your country.
And don’t forget to memorize poetry, Bible verses, and quotes from great literature.
At the same time that you’re encouraging your child to memorize, it’s also the time to lay a solid foundation of skills for future studies.
Children learn arithmetic and to read and write.
They copy excerpts from literature and narrate stories they hear.
The goal during the grammar stage is to expose the children to ideas and vocabulary.
For them to memorize lists of facts for future use, and to develop an appreciation and enthusiasm for knowledge and great literature.
As an example, don’t wait and introduce your kids to Shakespeare now. Read aloud children’s versions of the plays. Watch the plays. And memorize your favorite lines.
Remember not to overburden your child with drudgery but rather focus on developing a love of learning.
You can’t memorize every fact in the world, but a child who is fascinated by the wonders of the world will make homeschooling a delight in future years.
wonder and curiosity
Which makes developing a sense of wonder and curiosity in your kids vital. So vital that it’s considered one of the eight principles of the classical method!
While you’re memorizing all of these facts, you’ll also want to awaken your children’s curiosity. Memorize the parts of a cell. Then pull out the microscope and examine an onion cell.
Let them see pictures of the universe, cut-outs of the earth, and pictures of atoms.
Take a nature hike and look for worms, trees, flowers, and birds.
Set up a bug hotel in the back yard.
Create an edible model of the earth with your kids. Let me tell you, it’s a popular project at my house!
Explore the world by taking your children on field trips to various stores, fire stations, factories, banks, and libraries to see how their society works. What does the post office do? How is a letter mailed?
Learn about history and geography.
- How did people live in ancient Egypt?
- How do people live in Egypt now?
- Where is Egypt?
- The Nile?
- How were the pyramids made?
- Who were the pharaohs?
Expose your children to stories. Read stories of great men and women, fairy tales, mythology, and Bible stories. Classic children’s literature also makes a wonderful read-aloud.
Encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity in your children!
Develop Virtue & Character
As you expose your children to stories, you’re also developing virtue and character in them. So take care of the types of stories you introduce to your kids.
You need stories that inspire piety and goodness.
So read ancient myths, fairy tales, and folk tales. Read Bible stories to your children at bedtime. Look for stories that will help them to understand what is good and what is evil.
Because classical education isn’t about teaching your kids just to get them into a good college and the perfect job.
It’s about teaching your children’s hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. Teaching the good, the beautiful, and the true.
Remember you’re laying a foundation, not building a mansion in the grammar stage or elementary years.
The goal in these years is to develop your children’s characters. To encourage them to explore the world. Memorize information that will help them later. And to develop a sense of wonder and curiosity.
And if it comes down to a choice, favor memorizing beautiful poetry, quotes from literature, and Bible verses over memorizing lists.
Lists can be learned later or researched.
But beautiful poetry, Bible verses, and quotes from the literature will remain with your children for a lifetime. Giving them a permanent appreciation for the good, the beautiful, and the true.
- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home
- Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child
- The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education