We teach students using a developmental pathway referred to as the classical “Trivium,” which means the three ways. The three ways track with the natural stages of learning. The first stage is learning the grammar or basic facts (what) of a particular subject. The second stage is learning the logic or internal relationships (why) within and across disciplines. The third and final stage is the rhetoric stage (how) that explores how to practically apply the knowledge that has been gained.
In Arithmetic, emphasis in the early grades is placed on 1) math facts and 2) manipulation of these facts. Mastery of math facts involves extensive practice in both repetition and speed. Applying these facts to real world problems of time and measurements is equally stressed. Students are also shown the connection of mathematics to history primarily by biographical study of great mathematicians. In the Dialectic and Rhetoric stages, intermediate and then progressively advanced mathematics are introduced.
Bible, History and Literature are taught together chronologically (up to the second grade) to emphasize Christ’s dominion over historical events, to relate Biblical events to the eras in which they took place, and to help students see the redemptive plan of God working its way from ancient through modern times. Memorization of Scripture and the historic summaries of sound Christian teachings is accomplished by memorization of Bible passages in English and Latin, by recitation in song or chant, and by catechism instruction. Catechisms are simple summaries of primary teaching of Scripture in the form of brief question and answer sessions. In the dialectic stage, students begin their systematic reading of the Great Books of Western Civilization as part of their history and literature studies. In the rhetoric stage, students are ready for omnibus studies.
Classical training emphasizes Latin, which is the foundational language for English and the modern Romance languages, which have dominated Western Civilization. Since children learn languages especially well at the youngest ages, a strong English phonics program is taught from Kindergarten onward. Formal Latin studies start in second grade. The goal of grammar training in classical language is to read classical texts in the original languages.
English instruction revolves around phonics training, spelling, grammar, and reading of good children’s literature in the pre-grammar years (K-2). In the grammar school (3rd through 6th), English grammar skills are enhanced through the study of Latin. Reading and comprehension as well as vocabulary are primarily developed through the reading and analysis of good literature which is a pre-cursor to the Great Books courses in the middle and upper grades. Writing is taught as it was to the ancients, by presenting it progressively in different stages and types which build and interact with each other. Form and content receive equal consideration. Additionally, students learn great writing by emulating the great writers of history.