Last week, I mentioned one of the beauties of the Grammar Stage, which is the ability young kids have to devour information. So we let them. We give it to them. We pack them full of good things.
Once they reach the Logic Phase (5th - 8th grades), however, they're ready for more. They've naturally, by God's good design, begun to question things and to consider, much more intelligently, what's right and what's wrong. And usually, they think that they are right, and everyone else is wrong, and they don't mind telling you why. You could also call the Logic Phase the "Catch-You-Out-and-Smirk-About-It" phase.
While this developmental stage can be quite annoying, it's also normal, and very important. Children at this stage have just begun to debate issues, and to say what they think, and if they do not know the rules involved, things can get troublesome, and disastrous later on. They need tools to know how to think, and how to structure their thoughts. They need to know why a belief is wrong, not just the fact that it's wrong. And they need to know where love fits into the equation.
So how does this work for us at home? Just like we load on the information for our Grammar-Phase students, we load on the arguments for our Logic-Phasers. We don't discourage them from arguing; we encourage them, but using the right tools. And one of the first tools of argument for kids to learn is to obey authority right away without delay. We are all under authority (even parents), and this truth is the foundation to all logic exercises. There is no argument, just obedience. Otherwise, we are teaching them anarchist autonomy. Another tool is to learn to question and criticize at times that are not connected to obedience or rebellion. For instance, it isn't a good time for your son Bobby "The Bullhead" to suddenly get interested in arguments for or against corporal discipline in the home at just the moment when he's gotten caught telling a whopper. It is a good time to discuss those issues with him when you're watching the news together, and a story is aired about school violence.
But perhaps the most important tool of logic, behind them all, to learn is how certain arguments aren't meant to be "won." The point is to win hearts and souls. Or in other words, to learn that there is a deeper right than being right. Which is great preparation for the beauty of the final Trivium phase: Rhetoric.