Being a curriculum junkie and always looking for the next best thing means we have tried lots of different ways to homeschool. When we started out in our journey, I didn’t know anything was out there besides textbooks. Our first few years were filled with textbooks and lifepacks. But man were we bored! Over the years, being the researcher I am, I have learned that there are sooo many more options out there for homeschool families, and I have tried many of them,. But a few years ago, I heard about a book called “The Well-Trained Mind” and went to my local bookstore to purchase it.
TWTM (as it is affectionately called by die-hard fans) opened up a whole new world for me and my children. Through it’s pages, I learned how we can use non-fiction, living books instead of a boring, dry textbook to make learning more interesting and engaging. But more than that, I learned how to do this without neglecting important topics, eliminating the possibility of those much dreaded learning gaps. TWTM not only defines exactly what a classical education looks like, but lays out grade-by-grade, subject-by-subject HOW to cover all the needed material for a complete, rigorous home education!
By using the Trivium, I have gained more insights into how my children learn at different stages of their development and how to encourage and challenge them each and every day. I have learned how to eliminate the needless busywork and incorporate methods that make every teaching moment valuable. I have discovered ways that turn dry facts into adventures my boys can’t wait to begin! Not to mention we have added some wonderful projects and books to our repertoire.
I find it important to note at this time that I do NOT follow the recommendations in TWTM word for word. I do not feel the need to do everything suggested, rather, I use it as a resource to guide my curriculum choices and chosen topics of study. For instance, I combine the suggestions in TWTM with Tapestry of Grace’s curriculum. Especially in the grammar stage, TOG is a huge help by laying everything out for you. I find as my kids get older, I take more from TWTM’s suggestions and mesh it together with what we are doing in TOG. So far, this is working out beautifully and we are really enjoying all of the books, projects, and discussions that have resulted.
In certain subject areas, I have strayed at times very far away from the suggestions in TWTM. Some of these ventures have worked out just fine. But in other areas, I continually find myself cracking open the book again to re-evaluate, and many times going back alongside it’s suggestions and methods.
Many people, especially new homeschoolers, think a classical education requires a parent to have been college educated, or at the very least to have read many of the books from TWTM’s Great Books List. And while it is true that having experienced some of these great works yourself will give you an advantage in discussing them with your own child, there are many resources out there that will help you do this without having read the entire work on your own (TWTM talks about this very topic in-depth). The truth of the matter is simply that any parent who is willing to do their homework can give their child the awesome gift of a classical education at home!
I am aware that there are many books out there that claim to provide the same guidance for parents, and I have not read them. Nevertheless, TWTM so thoroughly covers every aspect of a classical home education that I have never felt the need to read these other books. It just works for us! In addition to the wealth of information and guidance found within the pages of TWTM, there is a blog (written by Susan Wise Bauer herself) and a forum available for those who desire a bit more. You can also find a wealth of information by visiting Peace Hill Press’s YouTube channel and watching some of the very informative videos listed there.
Please do not misunderstand, I am not writing this in order to try and convince you that a classical education is superior or even that you should run out and buy this book. My purpose is merely to introduce the concept and encourage those considering homeschooling classically that YOU CAN DO IT! And whether you find your confidence to do so through reading TWTM or another source, you will be so glad you took the time to do so!