Trivium: The Grammar Stage at Home

One of the beauties of the Grammar Stage of the Trivium is that you can essentially upload information onto your kids' hard drive. Select a file, choose a destination folder, and click OK. Their super-powered child-brain will process all relevant data with remarkable ease.

Now lest someone claim that Augustine Classical Academy believes that children are cyborgs, let me officially say that this is a metaphor. Children are definitely human, delightfully so, but we still admire how they can soak up information like a machine. (See, now I'm mixing a metaphor.)

What does this mean for us as parents? Because God created young children in this stage with a special taste for information, we should give it to them. Better phrased, we should serve it up for them by the forklift-pallet. No holding back. On a daily basis, we should be giving them stories, stories, and more stories. We should give them music, audiobooks, coloring books, castle cut-outs, dates, flags, capitals, countries, presidents, constellation charts, historical character sketches, myths and legends, math facts, bug collections, ant farms, stamp collections, and flower presses. This is their brain-food, and they need lots of it to survive.

But there's an important key. We can't overthink it.

Here's how. First, while routines are important for kids, a proper education in the Grammar Phase, particularly at home, is an immersion. Anytime, anywhere, for however long or short a period. The Information-Feasts are organic, part of the natural aroma of your home. More often than not, music is playing in the background -- so what if nobody is "listening"? Your dinner table is constantly a mess because of all the coloring, crafts, and model-building. Books are everywhere, and falling apart, because your kids are constantly reading them. Your home and your activities are not always organized, not by a long shot -- but they are always rich and constant.

Second, don't worry about explaining everything to kids at this stage. While good, honest questions should be answered as best we can, we shouldn't take it upon ourselves to explain too much. For instance, when we teach our 5-year-olds about Columbus, we might chant, "In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." But it wouldn't be very smart to begin a lecture on Columbus' mistreatment of the Native Americans and how his legacy has influenced race relations today. Perhaps a valid point, but not for the poor kid, not now. You've only confused him, and now he can't remember the rhyme.

"The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." Well, young children are, and the Grammar Phase is a wonderful period. Done right, with shared educational strategies between school and home, our students will be well-equipped for their next tool-in-the-belt, their next Stage: reason.