Classical Education & The Less Academic Child

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Classical education always seems to focus on the academically-minded child rather than the less academic child.

The kids who love the curriculum and eat it for breakfast. Moms talk about how their middle school kids are studying differential equations and reading Confessions by Augustine in their spare time.

And if your kids aren’t measuring up, clearly you’re a failure.

The Less Academic Child

But the truth is, you simply have a less academic child. A child who’d rather be doing something else, anything else, other than school.

They climb trees and chase butterflies in the sunlight. They run around the yard, turn over rocks to chase bugs, and dance among the leaves. Less academic kids love to build, to climb, and to play. And see book work as an imposition on their time.

They’d rather do anything else but read!

Sometimes your less academic kids struggle with schoolwork. They’re dyslexic or they have tracking issues. Schoolwork is harder for them than for other kids.

And waiting to teach your less academic kids doesn’t work. They’re not going to jump for joy at learning to read when they’re in middle school. They’re not going to suddenly want to sit down and complete a math textbook at 12. Our less academic kids need to progress in math, to have the same opportunities for further education, and to learn about the good, the beautiful, and the truth.

It’s safe to say, I have a few less academic kids in my family. Kids who needed extra time and attention to learn to read. Children who needed lessons adapted to their pace.

Kids I had to bring inside from dancing in the rain.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that if you’re struggling to give a classical education to a less academic child that you’re a failure. Because kids aren’t the same. Not every child is going to eat the curriculum for breakfast. Some of our kids will prefer being outside their entire life.

But at the same time, less academic kids need an education. They must learn to read, write, and do their math. They need to memorize beautiful poetry, gnaw on grammar rules, and learn logic.

Your less academic kids need to learn to express themselves well, ponder the great books, and enjoy classic literature.

After all, classical education isn’t about teaching your kids just enough so they can become functional adults in society. It’s about developing their bodies, minds, and souls.

And teaching them about the butterflies they chase dancing on the breeze, the turtles they see sunning on the log, and the clouds floating in the sky.

The best way to teach our kids is through the principles of classical education.

Principles of Classical Education

The eight principles of classical education guide your classical homeschool and give you the tools you need to give all your kids an excellent education. If you keep them in mind, you won’t go wrong!

Here’s a brief overview of the eight principles of classical education:

Festina lente (make haste slowly) | You must be patient with your less academic children. They can go just as far as more academic children. They simply need time, diligence, and patience.

Multum non multa (much not many) | Remember to concentrate on a few important subjects. Do not to try to cram all the information of the world into their heads immediately. Go deep, not wide.

Repetitio mater memoriae (repetition the mother of memory) | Less academic children don’t memorize at the drop of the hat. It takes time. It takes repetition. But that’s all right. Because repetition is the mother of memory!

Songs and chants | It’s all right to introduce fun songs, jingles, and chants into your memorization. Have fun with your learning!

Embodied education | The atmosphere in which you live, you teach, and you educate matters. The atmosphere can inspire kids to learn or encourage them to squabble with their siblings. So be mindful of the atmosphere of your home.

Educational virtues | Educational virtues are caught rather than taught. Do you model curiosity, zeal, and passion for education? If not, how can you expect the kids to be enthusiastic about learning!

Wonder and curiosity | Wonder and curiosity are important in classical education. Do they wonder at the splendor of a sunset? Are they curious about how birds fly? Classical education should stir wonder and curiosity in kids, not drown it out!

Scholé and contemplation | Kids need time to rest. To ponder. To think about what they’ve learned.

The principles of classical education are for all children, not just the academically-minded ones. After all, the goal of classical education is to encourage kids to learn, to shape their bodies, minds, and souls. And to help children see the beauty of the world.

As you educate your kids, keep the principles in mind. Give kids the time and patience they need to learn. Model educational virtues. Remember that repetition is the mother of memory. You’ll find all your kids go further with these principles.

Even if they don’t eat the curriculum for breakfast.

All children need the principles of classical education, especially the less academic kids. After all, the goal is to shape a child's body, mind, and soul.

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