A classical education offers substantial content by means of a unique, integrative approach to teaching. From first through sixth grade—i.e., the “grammar school”—the student’s mind is primed to absorb facts, and this is where the rudimentary truths of each discipline begin to develop. Children find it fun and relatively easy to memorize things, so we capitalize on this by singing, chanting, rhyming, storytelling, and other creative models of learning by means of which they memorize math facts, history dates, grammar rules, and Latin vocabulary. Grammar school students also enjoy experiential learning, and so, during these years, students dissect in science, perform in literature, and re-enact major events in history. As students’ progress, these mechanics become the building blocks that enable them to think analytically, ultimately enabling them to draw conclusions. By the fifth or sixth grade, students begin looking more critically at all they have learned and begin to ask the questions, “Why?” and “How?” That is, the student becomes interested not only in the facts themselves, but also in how these facts come together to form an ordered, coherent whole.
If you were to visit a fourth grade classroom, for example, you would find students integrating all these practices as they study knighthood during their studies of history. They are first taught the structure of the feudal system and the path to knighthood. These components are introduced, explained, and then memorized through repetition. Students then experience the path to knighthood by taking on the roles of pages, squires, and knights through various duties at home and school and by memorizing a code of chivalry. The path ends with a squire’s tournament, an elaborate medieval feast, and a knighting ceremony attended by their families and friends.
Similar methodology is seen in third grade. In place of the traditional basal reader, students read excellently written yet age-appropriate novels, for example, Charlotte’s Web. They read and discuss the book in class, create their own farmer’s almanacs, build pigs out of milk jugs for a mock county fair, and perform a class play of Charlotte’s Web for further application.
The same is true wherever a student may be in the grammar school—integration and application of the various subject areas is a cornerstone of classical education. For further information for specific grade levels, please visit the following pages: Curriculum Objectives, LLAMPPS, and Field Trips.