Classical Education for Free – Part 1: Memorization
Iwant to begin this column by sharing elements of classical education anyone can use for free in any homeschool setting. Outside of reading classic literature, this involves copywork, narration, dictation and memorization.
One of the most basic and beneficial elements of a classical education is memorization. It builds mental discipline, retention, confidence, and allows a parent to build a foundation in any subject for later studies. Young children, as soon as they can speak can memorize. How many toddler songs does your child know? Can you think of anything they have memorized? The way home from a store you frequent, or something you said two months ago that you must be reminded of?
From kindergarten through about 6th grade, children are sponges, this reflects the grammar stage of the trivium. The trivium is the backbone of classical education which organizes educational focus to the natural learning cycles of a child’s development. The Grammar years would be from first to fourth grade, Logic years would be fifth to eighth grade and Rhetoric would be ninth to twelfth grade, these grade level are a little different amongst the classical community but I’ll use this one as an example. Sometime around 6th they want to know the why and how of everything, they want to start arguing. This is natural; the absorption of the world around them prepares them to be able to argue when they are older. Memorization is just a way to direct this energy toward items worth remembering. Before I share with you how to do memorization with your children, let me share the benefits.
Memorization sharpens the mind, increases retention, and allows for a foundation to be built within the mind. If you have your child memorize scriptures, your child will draw from God’s word when in a moment of need. If you have him memorize the basics of mathematics such as addition and multiplication facts, it will aid in his higher math studies. If you have your child memorize the basics of every subject, they will have a foundation to draw from in all their higher studies. You’ve heard that starting a foreign language when children are younger is beneficial, right? The reason for that is a child’s natural ability to memorize. If a child memorizes a foreign language’s vocabulary when they are young, they will be able to tackle grammar and writing much sooner than high school.
Let’s talk about how to do it.
The simplest method of memorizing is to repeat the selection three times daily until memorized and then reviewed. There are many timelines for memorization that you can follow; personally my daughter (7) has review every two weeks of all items previously memorized.
Successful memorization is more than just memorizing the selection the first time, which is only half of the exercise, which is why repetition and review is crucial for long term memorization success. There are plenty of resources to help organize memorization materials but by far Simply Charlotte Mason has the most practical and easy to implement memorization organization / scheduled review techniques.
Truly, you can use any method for memorization but since 65% of the population is visual learners, it helps to show your child what you are asking them to memorize. Here’s our method:
I read aloud while showing the child the selection to be memorized 1 time.
Child reads aloud 1 time.
We read it together aloud 1 time.
I read aloud while showing the selection 1 time
Child reads aloud the selection 2 times all the way through.
Child reads first section (1 lines, 2 lines, or stanza) 3 times.
We read it together aloud 1 time to end.
This goes on until you’ve worked through the selection and the child has it memorized. It is important for the child to be able to SEE, HEAR, and SAY the selection to be memorized. If you have a hands-on child, allow them to illustrate the selection, we have done this with poetry and it has been very successful.
Laura Berquist of The Harp & Laurel Wreath suggests memorizing two lines of poetry at a time of course, your child will dictate the speed of the memorization progress.
There is no end to items to memorize, especially younger children but it is best to remember that only the most worthwhile things are worth your time. A fabulous resource that we use to help trim the vast amount of items to memorize is a homeschooling mom’s grammar stage memorization file which is free to download at Lulu.com.
In the next column, I’ll share about narrations.
Jessica is a Classical homeschooling mom to her 3 and 7 year old children. In her column “Trivium Tidbits”, she offers resources, aids and support for those who wish to homeschool their children using the Classical approach. Be sure to visit her blog at Trivium Academy.