Why Do Six-Year-Olds Go to First Grade? - Page 2 of 14 - Well-Trained Mind

Menu

Why Do Six-Year-Olds Go to First Grade?

In contemporary education, “What grade are you in?” has become synonymous with “How old are you?”  But the age grading system that shoves six-year-olds into first grade, seven-year-olds into second, and so on up isn’t remotely natural.

Nor is it based on sound educational principles. 

It dates, in the U.S., only back to 1847. Before then, teachers in one-room schools taught mixed-age groups together, with no standard curriculum, and students moved to more difficult material when they were ready, at widely varying times. (The medieval predecessor of the American one-room schoolhouse, the European cathedral school, typically had students from age 8 up to 21 or 22, all chanting the same lessons until learned.) 

But over in Prussia, a new system had been instituted in the early 1800s: smaller classrooms where students were grouped by age and led by a single teacher. This strategy wasn’t driven by educational research. It was an attempt to try to restore Prussian greatness after a humiliating defeat by Napoleon in 1806.

Struggling to rebuild, Prussian statesmen decided to organize schools like military units, in order to instill the will to fight and build pride in Prussia’s historically militaristic national culture. Students were organized into platoons by age and assigned to a single “squadron leader,” (a system which made the transition into military service quite straightforward).

When Horace Mann, American politician and reformer, visited Prussia, he was serving as the Secretary of Education for the state of Massachusetts. He had long hoped to see a “common school” introduced into America, a school that all students would attend together, a school that would give American a common language and purpose, a school equally accessible to all. “Education,” he wrote, in one of his annual reports, “beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.”

But drawing the masses of the uneducated into those multi-age classrooms was a daunting task, one that would require huge resources and scores of talented and flexible teachers. The Prussian system (complete with compulsory attendance, not at that time an American practice) struck Mann as the perfect answer: the very best way to channel a large number of diverse students into a single institution with maximum efficiency.

With Mann’s support, the Prussian system finally came to Massachusetts in 1847, when the Quincy Grammar School was built with twelve separate classrooms, containing a single age graded class led by a single teacher. The new plan did indeed turn out to be highly efficient (factories generally are), and age-graded schools were soon spreading—into the rest of New England’s urban centers, westward to other cities, and then out into rural areas as well. By the turn of the century, age grading was the norm in almost all of the nation’s “common schools. Compulsory attendance laws, also modeled after the Prussian system, followed shortly after; Massachusetts again led the way, passing the first regulations in 1852.

So our strong identification of age with grade is the result of (in the words of Rick Hess) “our peculiar devotion to a model that defeated Prussian leaders developed in order to salvage the last vestiges of their shattered national pride.”

RATE THIS ARTICLE

High School Transcript Forms

Which format should my child’s transcript take? Here are a few suggestions.

There is no single universally-accepted form for high school transcripts. Forms acquired from any of the following sources are perfectly acceptable. (See Chapter 41 in the fourth edition of The Well-Trained Mind for step-by-step guidance to creating a high school transcript for your home-educated high school student.)

Build your own transcript online at Transcript Maker.

If you (still) have a PC, you can use Edu-Track Home School software or Inge Cannon’s Homeschool Transcripts. Neither are currently Mac-friendly.

Janice Campbell’s Transcripts Made Easy shows you how to create a transcript with your word processor.

 

RATE THIS ARTICLE

The Newest Edition of a Homeschool Classic

Susan Wise Bauer walks us through the differences between the 4th edition of The Well-Trained Mind and its previous versions. Text! Video! Bullet Points! Everything you need to navigate the extensively updated edition is right here.

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home has gone into its fourth edition! Here’s a list of the major differences in this most recent revision.

  • Each chapter has been separated into two sections: first, how to teach a subject (methods, goals, expectations, etc.); and second, what resources to use (recommended texts and curricula.) This makes the book even more flexible, since parents can use the principles of teaching even if they choose to use other specific texts or programs than the ones we suggest.
  • Completely updated book and curricula recommendations.
  • New guidance on dealing with learning challenges and difficulties. Children who struggle with learning disabilities seem to make up a much higher percentage of home educated students than in previous years, since schools often are unable to provide the support they need. As home education has become more visible and additional resources have become available, many more parents are reacting to these very individual needs by choosing to remove struggling children from the classroom entirely.
  • New online resources, including alternative curricula (not included in the book because they were too complicated, expensive, specialized or quirky—but all of which have enthusiastic support among many veteran home schoolers), additional help for struggling learners, apps and online learning games, and more.
  • Brand-new maths and sciences chapters. Classical education has often been criticized as stronger in the humanities than in the maths and sciences. Working with highly qualified experts and experienced teachers, we have overhauled our approach to provide a much more rigorous and coherent maths and sciences education.
  • Shift of quickly outdated appendices (list of suppliers and publishers, index of home education organizations, links to state laws, and other constantly changing resources) online, where they can be regularly updated.

RATE THIS ARTICLE

Spelling Power

Subject: Spelling

Grade level: 3-12

Publisher: Castlemoyle Books

Website: http://www.spellingpower.com/

Description:  This one-volume spelling resource, recommended in earlier editions of The Well-Trained Mind, is designed for use in any grade (third and after). Rather than taking a workbook approach to spelling, Spelling Power is list-focused; it divides a list of 5,000 words (“most frequently used and misspelled by children and adults”) into eleven levels, based on frequency of use, and then further separates those levels into groups by phonetic principles. Students are taught to visualize and trace words in the air before writing them; a selection of games and activities expand the method to include the other senses. The parent needs to spend preparation time on the lesson before teaching it.

Pros: Affordable, multi-sensory.

Cons: Requires more preparation time than Spelling Workout but provides less detailed instruction than All About Spelling or Sequential Spelling.

Why it’s not in the book: Spelling Power is still a good resource, but All About Spelling and Sequential Spelling are more complete programs for dyslexic and spelling-challenged students, while Spelling Workout is simpler to use for students who don’t struggle with spelling. Spelling Power “falls in the middle.”

What parents say: Visit these forum threads to find out more.

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/618731-need-a-break-from-aas-spelling-power-vs-spelling-plus-vs/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/452897-spelling-power/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/88612-spelling-workout-vs-spelling-power/

RATE THIS ARTICLE

Memoria Press Online Academy

Memoria Press, a classical curricula publisher with a strong focus on Latin and classical literature, offers live online classes for grades 3-12 across the curriculum.

Enroll for Latin, Greek, logic, and other subjects, taught by qualified instructors.

Memoria Press Online Classical Academy is explicitly Christian but does not require students to hold their beliefs in order to enroll.

Home page: https://www.memoriapressacademy.com/

RATE THIS ARTICLE

Well-Trained Mind Academy

We have an Academy to help you make sure your child gets the best classical education possible!

The Well-Trained Mind Academy is based on the classical model described in The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (first published in 1999 by W.W. Norton and now in its fourth edition).

Offering a full range of middle school (logic stage) and high school (rhetoric stage) classes across the curriculum, the Academy offers live and delayed-attendance classes (for those in different time zones) with full instructor support, grading, and feedback. The standard class size averages 15-20 students. Courses requiring more personalized instruction have an average of 10-15 students.

Office hours give students an opportunity to work with instructors individually outside of the live classroom.  Discussion boards and email are provided to facilitate ongoing instructor and peer assistance. All instructors have years of experience in teaching, tutoring, homeschooling, or a combination of all three.

The Academy is nonsectarian in orientation.

Writing & Grammar Courses

Foreign Languages

Math and Science Courses

History, Geography, and Literature Courses

Fine Arts Courses

Reasoning and Study Skills Courses

Test Preparation (SAT and AP)

 

Talk to other parents about the Well-Trained Mind Academy:

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/538797-any-reviews-of-wtm-academy-rhetoric-class/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/542696-wtm-academy-intro-to-rhetoric-or-rhetoric-i-for-8th-grader/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/586970-what-is-your-favorite-wtm-academy-course/

RATE THIS ARTICLE

What Is Twice Exceptional?

Twice exceptional students need to be challenged intellectually, but also require careful remediation and assistance in the areas where they struggle.

“Twice exceptional” (or 2E) is a label for children who are advanced in one or more areas, but who also have a learning difference (such as ADHD, dyslexia, or dysgraphia).

Twice exceptional students need to be challenged intellectually, but also require careful remediation and assistance in the areas where they struggle.

Learn more with these resources:

http://www.uniquelygifted.org/, a site maintained by professional educator (and 2E mother) Meredith G. Warshaw, provides dozens of valuable links to studies, articles, and stories, along with very helpful information about constructing an IEP (individualized education plan).

Beverly Trail, Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted Students (Prufrock Press, 2010)

Kiesa Kay, ed., Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Twice-Exceptional Student (Avocus, 200)

Deirdre V. Lovecky, Different Minds: Gifted Children With AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits (Jessica Kingsley Publications, 2003)

Discuss 2E challenges and strategies with other parents:

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/528649-did-you-decide-to-homeschool-your-2e-child-x-post-general-ed/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/557706-received-child-study-results-and-public-school-is-recommended-help/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/529692-what-questions-to-ask-re-hs-and-2e/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/605470-2e-addadhd-resources/

 

RATE THIS ARTICLE

High School Credit and Subject Planning Worksheet

Download and print out this worksheet, taken from The Well-Trained Mind (fourth edition), to plan out the distribution of high school credits among the seven subject areas.

High School Worksheet

RATE THIS ARTICLE

Middle Grade Curriculum Planning Worksheet

Download and print out this worksheet, taken from The Well-Trained Mind (fourth edition), to begin planning out your middle grade (logic stage) years of study.

 

Middle Grades Curriculum Planning Worksheet

RATE THIS ARTICLE

Elementary Curriculum Planning Worksheet

Download and print out this worksheet, taken from The Well-Trained Mind, to begin planning out your elementary (grammar stage) years of study.

Elementary Grades Curriculum Planning Worksheet

RATE THIS ARTICLE

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER & RECEIVE A COUPON FOR
10% OFF
We respect your privacy.You’ll hear about new products, special discounts & sales, and homeschooling tips. *Coupon only valid for first-time registrants. Coupon cannot be combined with any other offer. Entering your email address makes you eligible to receive future promotional emails.