Can you believe it is already August? When August hits, I usually try to be more intentional about baby-step preparations for our new school year. This coming school year, we have LOTS of changes going on in our family. We now have a HIGH SCHOOL student in the house and we are embarking on a huge shift in our homeschool routine – we are starting Classical Conversations!
I thought I’d bring you all along for the next 5 days and show you some of the changes we are making.
One of the big components for everyone in our family (well, except maybe for dad) is the systematic introduction of Memory Work. I have wanted to include memory work into our home education program since my first read-through of The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. For whatever reason, I just never researched enough into what to memorize beyond some poems in First Language Lessons. Yes, I am well aware that I ignored Susan’s nice lists in the history chapter appendix. Honestly, those lists were long and I didn’t really know what to do with them, so I just ignored them.
Then, a few years ago, we entertained the idea of joining a newly formed Classical Conversations community in our area. Although we did not join, we did begin intentional incorporation of memory work into history and science.
- It’s developmental. Children in the elementary grades were designed to memorize. They eat this stuff up. It does not have to be boring and rote. The act of memorization exercises mental pathways and is a great skill to learn. As Classical Conversations founder Leigh Bortins (a real rocket scientist) wrote in her book The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education:
…When the child searches for an idea of fact, she has a place where the mind’s eye goes to either retrieve currently stored, related facts or to find a sensible location to ‘shelve” new facts for later retrieval.”
Using the analogy of a grocery store, Mrs. Bortins goes on to explain that memorization trains the brain to return to the ‘geography’ aisle of the grocery store when needing to recall information from that category. Additionally, when learning to memorize, students will need to decide if information belongs in the ‘history’ section or ‘science’ aisle of the grocery store for fastest recall.
Most encouraging to parents of children with all learning styles and needs, Mrs. Bortins concludes her section on grammar-state memorization with this:
“No matter what your children’s strengths and weaknesses are, or their likes and dislikes or their gifts and talents, their brains want to gather, sort, store, and retrieve information.”
- It’s the basics upon which we build in every season of life. Every time you take a new job, guess what? You have a new set of work-related vocabulary to memorize; you have new names and faces to learn; you have new systems and processes to memorize – new personnel rules and regulations under which to operate. All of these things are called the grammar of your job – the basic framework upon which a job (or school subject or hobby) is build. Once you know this grammar, you can build upon it with innovation and creativity.
- Pegs. In academics, memory work provides metaphorical pegs upon which more information can be added. When you’ve memorized multiplication, you can then use these simple facts to begin multiplying multiple digits together or you can begin division with much more ease. In science, when you’ve memorized facts about biology or geology, you can then go into greater depth and understanding in these topics. In history, knowing a general timeline can help you begin to layer more information on these “pegs” and begin to see connections between historical events.
What I thought I’d do for the next four days is show you one way to organize for memory work. Truly, you can fill up a Pinterest board with gazillions of ways to organize anything. This is just how we are going to start our year. I’m sure I’ll tweak the system as the year progresses, but I thought it would be fun to blog our starting point then see where we end up by April!
Tomorrow’s post: Organizing flashcards for memory work.
Please click on the link below to read all of our Schoolhouse Crew member’s 5 Days… blog entries!