Classical education: the Trivium, grammar stage K-4

Trivium —  3 stages of classical learning method including grammar (memorization of facts in all subjects), logic (explaining the why’s and how’s of a subject), and rhetoric (supporting ideas with facts and communicating them effectively).  Each stage maximizes the brain capacity and psychological stages of development in different childhood periods.

The grammar stage is generally K-4th grade & focuses on memorization.  As the brain finishes off developing its size capacity ~3-5 years old, it begins focusing on internal synaptic connections.  Simply put, more pathways are being created.  Taking advantage of this allows the knowledge to sink deeply into both conscious and subconscious minds.

As if building a house, it creates strong, wide foundations for a lifelong structure to withstand many perils.  Don’t worry if you are 1 of our late bloomers who are just discovering their own potentials later in life than age 5…renovations, additions, & upgrades are always welcome provided you have will and wit to see it through.

So far (except, of course, for the Latin), our curriculum contains nothing that departs very far from common practice.  The difference will be felt rather in the attitude of the teachers, who must look upon all these activities less as “subjects” in themselves than as a gathering-together of material for use in the next part of the Trivium.  — Dorothy Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning”

As I mentioned here, it begins with the right attitude.

So, like Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise emphasize in “The Well Trained Mind,” grades K-4 are not the time to make them dig out facts from content or break an interesting topic to bits and pieces with trivial worksheets or quizzes, but instead, treat them like the sponges they are, allowing them to read about various interests until their heart’s content.  This capitalizes on the excitement that the 1st exposure to something creates.  If they want to take 1 topic and read 50 variances relating to it, then super!  They will probably come out of it knowing more than you do, and should that be the case — do NOT let that intimidate you.  Nor is it cause to accept disrespect from them, either, by the way.

What you should be able to expect is that after reading or listening to a topic, they should be able to repeat facts and summarize the content out loud.  Prioritize reading, writing (includes spelling, vocabulary, grammar), and math.  I have always made sure that in the early years (preK-1) their reading was 2/3 imaginative, 1/3 factual based history or science, then 2nd grade I made it a 50/50 split, then 3rd & 4th grade it evolved to 2/3 historical or scientific interests & 1/3 imaginative.

I cannot recommend The Well Trained Mind enough, and while I will save individual posts for specific lesson plan ideas, I will go ahead and tell those beginning to read that phonics is crucial.  Next are word parts:  prefixes, root words, suffixes; these guys will be introduced right after basic phonics comprehension and take you through college and beyond.

Also, never discount the idea of manipulating letters/words in the learning process.  Touch, or tactile stimulation, is imperative especially in early learners.  It also really burns in visual imagery of the letter/word/task at hand and allows recall to be much more definitive.


To gain a better idea of exactly what, when, and how much to study each week, join us here.


To get a better grasp of the next phase – the logic stagefollow me here.



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Grammar Stage Vocabulary « The Infamous Frik n' Frak
  2. Trackback: How to approach vocabulary for homeschoolers « The Infamous Frik n' Frak
  3. Trackback: Intro to Latin for beginners « The Infamous Frik n' Frak
  4. Trackback: Homeschooling My Four-Year-Old Son « mindfulconsideration

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