Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, written by the woman who edited The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum, is not an apologetics manual for homeschooling or classical education, but rather a practical suggestion for what to cover in each grade and how. I find it helpful to read about what other families have done and found successful, so I can tweak what might work for us.
Although the book is classical in focus, the author does draw heavily from Charlotte Mason, emphasizing short lessons, memory work, living books, nature study, narration, artist and composer study, and habit training. Beginning in the 4th grade section this book includes lists of living books by topic that would be tremendously helpful if you have a child reading at that level.
I found that I somewhat disagreed with the authors approach to history study, and since this is a book about Catholic home education, the religion sections were obviously Catholic in focus. Of course you could substitute your own religious studies materials, and I think it was good that the author emphasized making that an everyday study.
Another strength of the book that you might expect if you’ve read The Harp and Laurel Wreath is the author’s helpful suggestions of poems and Shakespeare passages to memorize in each grade. Since my own education was woefully deficient in this area I am always looking for ways to make sure my kids memorize beautiful things that are helpful to them and will make them more educated (I often wonder what things “an educated person” should know by heart – it seems that in the past people knew lots of things they could quote at opportune moments).
If you are homeschooling, or are looking for helpful reading suggestions for elementary kids and older, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum may be helpful to you and I’d recommend it.
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