As we are preparing co-op plans for next year, we always have to take a step back and evaluate what we are doing and how it is working. I asked our moms to pretend for a bit that we are starting from scratch with our current ages group and developmental stages, resources, talents and meeting location. What are our needs and what can we realistically accomplish on a Monday morning, meeting in a park? Which of our children remain in the grammar stage, which in dialectic and which have moved on to the rhetoric stage? Or in biblical terminology: knowledge, understanding and wisdom? Or as my daughter put it: the What stage, the Why stage, and the How to persuade stage. What is best accomplished in a group setting? What is best accomplished at home in an individual setting? We also begin with prayer. We want to teach our children diligently what God would have them learn. Children are each unique individuals, with unique needs.
Our grammar stage students find tremendous accomplishment in the memory work. Our students entering the rhetoric stage no longer have any interest in it and find it difficult! This year each of our rhetoric students will become the memory work tutor for a group of four grammar stage students. Our dialectic students will still be reviewing what they learned four years ago to keep it fresh in their minds, but less emphasis is placed on it.
A big question has been what to do with art? Our dialectic students do not want to let it go, but something must give to make room for more discussion and writing appropriate to that age group. We are thinking through several compromises. Can we discuss and write on art history? Can we scale down to focus on sketching? We do find value in imitating the masters.
And what about a growing divide in our emerging rhetoric students? Some are capable of a great volume of heavy reading and others find the reading very difficult. Can we customize a literature schedule that allows some students to read every other book?
Our conclusion has been, that with some tweaks, our basic program will still work, but added challenges are necessary to keep our students progresses through the stages of learning at the same rate that they are moving through the classical stages developmentally. Before we start any planning for next year we must 1) Know which stage our child is in developmentally, 2) Have a plan for what we wish cover academically, 3) Examine our resources practically, and 4) Match it up to our long term plan for what we want our child to leave our home looking like (Begin with the end in mind!) Thinking through these details makes the more practical considerations fall into place. More on planning to come!