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(The following is a guest post from True North Homeschool Academy teacher Amy Vickrey, MSE)

I first heard about Cheryl Swope and her approach to Classical Education through my volunteer work with SPED Homeschool.  The more I heard, the more I was interested in learning more. So, I finally took the time to read Simply Classical, A Beautiful Education for Any Child.  

With Simply Classical, I learned a lot about Classical Education in general and discovered some fantastic parallels to my own approach to education.  Here is a little about what I learned…

The introduction of Latin at an early age and the focus on other languages can be very beneficial to children who have language delays.

Brain research shows that there is an area of the brain in the back of the head that is only activated by learning and using a second language.  The introduction of Latin, Spanish, Sign Language, or another language can be so beneficial to children who struggle with language. First, it gives additional pathways between the two sides of the brain to help process language.  Second, it can be used to add “fun” to therapy, games, and other activities. Finally, learning vocabulary from Latin, Greek, German, or other Romance languages helps break down words and their meanings as you get into higher reading and writing levels.

Classical Education, at its truest, is about focusing on the thorough education of 1 or a few students.

When education first began, private tutors took on 1 or a few students to teach them all the things they knew.  It was about focusing on those few, not on the masses. This method allowed detailed, direct studies of material. This teaching model is so important for students who struggle.  One on one and small group settings are very desirable for children with attention, behavior, or learning challenges.

Memorization – a direct teaching method.

If you really want to memorize something, you read and study it over and over.  You use your eyes (visual), you say it out loud to yourself (auditory), and a lot of times, you move your body (kinesthetic).  It takes 20-40 times of doing something or experiencing something correctly to transfer that skill from short term to long term memory.  If you learn it wrong, it takes 200-400 times to correct the error. In special education, direct teaching is such an effective tool. Classical education is all about memorization at the lowest level and a great approach for many special needs students.  Simply Classical offers suggestions for supporting students who struggle with memorization by adding a visual cue, movement, and other tips.

Levels of support and prompting

Simply Classical is full of ideas of adding visual cues, movement, and other supports and prompts (hints) to support students with different disabilities.  Cheryl also stresses not moving forward until a concept is mastered, even if that means repeating a level using a different curriculum or different approach.  This is so important to give students that struggle additional practice, more time to learn the material, or to move at a slower pace.

Incorporating Therapy into Instruction

When you have a child with special needs, you often have therapy that needs to be incorporated into the school day, and homework from the therapy to follow up with.  These can be done using materials from your school day, in tandem with your schoolwork, or in place of different subjects. Find a therapist who supports your homeschooling efforts and works with you to achieve academic goals as well as the therapy goals.

Teaching to your child’s strengths

Cheryl Swope is very big on teaching to your child’s strengths and interests, especially as they mature. She explains that not every child may reach the upper levels of classical education in every subject.  However, children should be allowed to move forward in any areas they are strong in.

Getting Creative

Sometimes you have to get creative to fit everything in for school, doctors’ appointments, therapy, and life!  Cheryl offers advice for how she managed to juggle it all as her children grew and matured. She also offers other creative solutions for integrating subjects, schooling on the road, and other ideas.

Upper Levels of Classical Education

Some children may never reach the Logic or Rhetoric stages of the Trivium (Language), or in the Quadrivium (Math).  However, the skills gained in the Grammar stage in these areas can give a good foundation for any child to achieve as much as is possible.  She offers several reading lists for various ability levels for classic literature, as well as ideas for including elements of those higher levels of Classical Education in ways that are accessible to students functioning on lower levels.  She also includes her experiences with how Logic, Latin, and other elements of Classical Education positively shaped her children’s futures.

Simply Classical Curriculum and Teacher’s Guides

Cheryl Swope has been working diligently over the last few years to expand her Simply Classical book into a full curriculum specially designed for special needs.  While no curriculum is going to be one-size-fits-all, she has done an excellent job of putting together resources and daily lesson plans that are routine, detailed, and easy to follow.  Each level is 34 weeks, with an additional eight weeks for review and reinforcement. The checklist-style can easily be used in different ways to make it work best for your child. Some thoughts about how it might be easily modified:

  • Each day could easily be split up into multiple days to accommodate students who need more time to complete activities or tire quickly.  This method would expand the time to complete the material, but still effective for students who need this.
  • Specific subjects could be switched out for a different level if your child is ahead or behind in that particular subject
  • The morning routine is great for consistency.  It is a great guide to follow each day or to easily create a similar routine that fits your child’s needs.

Thank you, Cheryl Swope, for creating such a wonderful, loving book and curriculum to help any child receive a beautiful education.  The tools, tips, and resources in the book are wonderful and helpful no matter what approach to education you choose. You can easily read the book, and use some of the techniques and suggestions, or you can follow in Cheryl’s wise footsteps and utilize her system to guide you more thoroughly.  Simply Classical truly is Simply Amazing to help guide parents through their homeschooling journey.

Contributor

 

Amy Vickrey holds a Masters of Science in Education, Specializing in Curriculum and Instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University-San Marcos.  Also, she spent 2 years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language and Generalist (early childhood through fourth). She is now part of the Struggling Learners Department of True North Homeschool Academy, and loves the discovery approach to learning. Teaching children how to learn will help them reach their goals and dreams.

 

Are you a follower of the classical method of education in your homeschool? Check out this review of the book Simply Classical by Cheryl Swoope. #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #ClassicalEducation #ClassicalHomeschool #Homeschooling

 

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