Part 1: Guiding our children spiritually intro
Part 2: the VIOLIN years
Part 3: the VIOLA years
Part 4: the CELLO years
Part 5: adding in the academics
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NASB)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 (NASB)
As I have researched what classical Christian education is, three overarching themes have stood out to me. Let me share with you now what these themes are and how our String Ensemble stages of learning intersect with them as we give our children a classical Christian education. We will be using and unpacking this working definition:
A classical Christian education cultivates maturity in the Lord by sharing the STORY of humanity through quality books, building SKILLS through training to mastery, and nurturing the SPIRIT through Biblical modeling and teaching.
Putting this together
Intersection of Ideas
Language and literature
Arts, apologetics, and attitude
Character and Conviction
Eloquence in expression
Ownership and obedience
Birth to age 5 (VIOLIN 1)
The area of Story during these years is characterized by What & Why. It is filled with a massive amount of learning as children learn names for everything around them, realize that actions have reactions, that what goes up must come down, and that the sky contains rain and clouds and sunshine. In this age, we introduce books and minimize, if not eliminate, screens, and we share the joy of storytelling as we curl up together on the sofa for this wonderful ritual.
The area of Skill is characterized by the word Establishing as our children are focused on physical tasks of walking, running, jumping and climbing, and small motor skills of clutching, throwing, and eventually drawing, painting, and writing. It is also a time of building self-control and discipline through regular routines, and healthy eating and sleeping habits.
Ages 6 to 9 (VIOLIN 2)
The area of Story is now marked by Wonder. It is filled with what was known as "Music" (from the word "muse") in ancient times. Not only limited to what we now know as music, this is exposure to things that build wonder at the world through stories and myths, music, poetry, time spent in nature, tales of heroes, and of course the Word of God. Memory work can be focused on internalizing beautiful works of poetry and prose.
The area of Skill during these years is now termed Emerging. It includes what the ancients called the "gymnasium", activities focused on physical training - an introduction to sports and physical activity, as well as the discipline and self-control needed to learn these and do well at them. It also includes foundational training in mental tasks of phonics and reading, small motor skill tasks of drawing, writing and copywork, and the skill of oral narration of events they have experienced and stories they have heard or read. In the latter part of this stage, after phonics skills are well-established, Latin and English grammar can be introduced, as well as beginning arithmetic, the earliest of the seven language arts, also known as the trivium and quadrivium. Groundwork for later instruction in the fine arts and manual arts can be laid with basic instruction in music and art, as well as expectations of chores to be completed at home.
Ages 10-13 (VIOLA)
The area of Story is now characterized by the term World, as our children's world expands to include more challenging literature selections, a deeper understanding of history and how the actions of one nation have impacted others, and toward the end of the VIOLA stage, more advanced science. They also begin to make connections between topics such as science and history, biography and geography. It is a time to introduce current events, but from a classical perspective, also a time to delve more into the cultures and histories of ancient Greece and Rome.
The area of Skill during these years is now termed Expanding. Academic skills are focused on the Trivium (grammar, including Latin) and the quadrivium (Arithmetic and Geometry), as well as early composition skills (classically, this would mean learning the steps of the progymnasmata, a series of exercises taught prior to the study of rhetoric. It continues and expands on physical, fine arts, and manual skills, as well as habits of self-discipline and self-control.
Ages 14-17 (CELLO)
The area of Story is characterized by the term Wisdom, as students begin diving into what are commonly referred to as the "Great Books", reading them not only for the story but for the commentary on, and observation of, humanity through the centuries. It includes deeper study of the history of the world and the ideas that drove the beginnings of our country, and where those came from. It also involves studying the sciences and the contemporary issues that intersect with those.
The area of Skill during these years is now termed Excelling. Trivium skills finally move from Grammar to Logic and then Rhetoric, and in the quadrivium, students begin tackling Geometry (if they haven't already) and more advanced mathematical courses that fall into the categories of Astronomy and Music. Before studying Rhetoric, they will complete most of the steps of the progymnasmata exercises, and they will have experience writing for different purposes as they study the Story topics above. They will continue to learn non-English languages, whether Latin, Greek, or a "modern" one. Outside of academics, they need to firm up their own personal convictions about, and habits in, physical fitness, healthy eating and sleeping. Training in fine arts and manual arts will continue, according to their interests and gifts, and they can be encouraged to consider how to use these to serve others and bring glory to God.