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A Classical Education - Skills for Life

© Linda Maher, Exploring Approaches to Home Education Seminar, Adelaide 2008

The Goal of Classical Education is to teach our children 'HOW TO LEARN'.

Focus is on developmental stages, not subjects, and not grade levels.

A Classical Eduction provides NECESSARY skills, by using the NATURAL development of the child, and we NURTURE and ENCOURAGE their success.


  • Various authors have different opinions
  • Agree, though, on focussing on the 'TRIVIUM'.
  • Stages: Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric
  • We use these NATURAL developmental stages to teach basic, essential skills and to provide the TOOLS for all future learning.


  • 'Knowledge Stage'
  • Soak up information, love rhymes and chants, memorisation comes easily
  • Use memorisation, copywork, stories and narration.


  • After knowledge, comes UNDERSTANDING
  • Move from 'what' and 'when' to WHY
  • Child is inquisitive
  • Can grasp ABSTRACT concepts
  • Writing - key words, paragraph topics
  • Latin leads the student to be equipped, ready and able to learn.


  • Begin asserting their own individuality and thoughts
  • Rhetoric stage is about ARGUMENT
  • Present ideas and defend one's position
  • Knowledge - Understanding - Wisdom
  • Own ideas and individuality express through WORDS
  • Deeper look at history and science
  • Use of original source material
  • Discussions of deeper issues, morals and ideas.


  • Use good literature throughout ALL of the child's schooling
  • Age appropriate, but not 'twaddle'
  • Use a guide with good reading lists, such as 'Honey for a Child's Heart'.


  • differs from traditional, text-book methods
  • mainly used in Science and History
  • focus on one topic for longer length of time - a year eg. Life Science
  • generates a LOVE for the topic
  • leads to a LOVE for the subject
  • because of time spent, information is more easily RETAINED .


  • The Well-Trained Mind - History at its 'core'
  • The Latin-Centered Curriculum - Latin
  • Teaching the Trivium - Bible
  • Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum - Trivium
  • Lost Tools of Learning - simple, basic, thorough.


  • Encourage even small efforts
  • Success breeds success
  • Slow, day by day process
  • Rome wasn't built in a day!

Discouragement comes:

  • When child is tired, pushed too quickly or belittled
  • Use of sarcasm or raising our voice not only brings the child down, but makes our job so much harder.
  • Can create feelings of hopelessness

How to encourage:

  • Offer patient and consistent help
  • Praise even the smallest of successes
  • Assume a certain level of expectation
  • Work and train the habits that lead to success


  • Classical Education is rigorous and thorough
  • Moves methodically through each stage of the TRIVIUM
  • Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric
  • Classical Education teaches 'HOW TO LEARN'
  • Provides the 'Skills for Life'.

"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."

B. F. Skinner , New Scientist, May 21, 1964 US psychologist (1904 - 1990)

Classical Educational Resources are available at:

Internet Message Boards on Classical Education

Further Reading

  • The Lost Tools of Learning, by Dorothy Sayers
  • Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, by Laura Berquist
  • The Latin-Centered Curriculum, by Andrew Campbell
  • The Well-Trained Mind, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise-Bauer
  • Teaching the Trivium, by Harvie and Laurie Bluedorn
  • Trivium Sketches - a DVD showing the Trivium in 'action', from the Logos School.

All of the above resources may be purchased from www.adnilpress.com

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
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Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!

We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.

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Home education is a legal alternative
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to suit the individual needs of their children.

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