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Why I Chose a Classical School for My Children

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With the flip top wooden desks and lack of computers or iPads, you could easily mistake my daughter’s classical school for something out of the 1950s. But it’s not a longing for the good old days that motivated my husband and me to make the counter-cultural decision to send our daughters to a classical school. 

After five years of having children in a classical school, these are the reasons I am so happy my husband and I made the decision we did: 

1. I don’t have to worry about whether the latest and greatest education philosophy is good for my child.

The time-tested methods of classical education is how great minds learned for centuries. These days schools and universities place such a high priority on critical thinking, but classical educators believe that you cannot truly think critically unless you have the facts and knowledge upon which to think. That’s why during the early years of classical education, called the Grammar Stage, the focus is on making elementary-aged children proficient in reading, writing, math, and grammar.  Memorization still plays a large role in classical schools: whether it’s math facts, poetry, or phonemes (i.e. phonics), the early years of classical education provide the foundation for being able to use logic and reason later on in school and in life.

2. There is little to no screen time at school. 

Some people are turned off when they find out classical schools don’t pad their admissions brochures with specialized technology classes. But what good is a computer coding class in second grade if a child hasn’t yet mastered the basics of math? Proponents of classical education believe that a child who excels at math, reading, and writing can pretty much excel at any of the other subjects or skills (including computer) later in his education and life. Besides, do schools really need to spend several hours a week (and a lot of money!) teaching children something they probably have already learned on their own home computers? I’m not convinced. For decades children have proven that they are usually way more savvy than their elders when it comes to technology. 

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Cursive is very much alive and well in classical schools.

3. Children develop a true love of learning.

The aim of classical education is not perfection, but mastery. No doubt the curriculum is rigorous, but students who feel the accomplishment of mastering something difficult are much more likely to move onto something more challenging and more likely to enjoy it.

This fall my kindergartner begged me to go to the Meadows Museum because they had a couple of prints of Albert Dürer, whose Praying Hands she had studied recently. She got frustrated a few times in class because it was difficult to try to recreate that print. But when she finally did complete it, she was elated and became eager to go see more of his prints in person.

Honestly, I am not sure what exactly her amazing art teacher did to foster such a sincere hunger to learn and see more, but she did! It’s the same way with music and nature in classical schools – they are taught to always observe, and enjoy, the beautiful world God created around them.  

4. Children learn to connect the dots, with history as their framework. 

Growing up I learned how to take tests well and include the things my English teachers were looking for in essays. But when I got to college I realized I utterly missed the big picture. Classical schools teach in a way that allows children to naturally make connections between events and people in history. 

Take, for example, the Texas history my daughter is learning this year. A typical social studies book with a passage on William B. Travis and a test on important dates and people at the Alamo could in no way impact her like the letter written by Travis at the Alamo that she memorized and can recite as passionately as if she were right there with him. Or the reading assignment of Johnny Texas, about a little boy who has to step up and care for his mother and baby sister after his father goes off to fight for Texas’ independence in Sam Houston’s army. Nor would she be able to accurately put a time-frame on this period if she had not already learned about the culture and history of colonial and pioneer periods in first and second grades. 

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Many classical schools have Living History Days so children can get a little taste of what life what like during the period they are studying.

5. They don’t read the latest best-selling children’s books in school.

You rarely hear of a classically educated 4th grader who can’t easily pick up and read Little Women or The Black Stallion. Why? Because from the time he was in first grade, his teachers have not only been reading him rich, meaningful literature with beautiful imagery, but he, too, has been reading books with challenging syntax and diction. 

There’s nothing wrong with the “filler” type books that publishers churn out these days, but a child who only reads books like Captain Underpants or Goosebumps for reading assignments may have a hard time digesting the complicated language of Hamlet and Pilgrim’s Progress in the eleventh grade or Hannah Arendt in college.

(Oh and a bonus of the beautiful literature children read in classical schools? Their vocabularies are beyond what any SAT prep class could teach. I can’t help but chuckle when my oldest says things like, “Olivia and I had a quarrel at school today.”)

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Classical schools encourage parents to read aloud classic books to their children. The Chronicles of Narnia was a big hit in our house. 

 


Below is a list of classical education schools and resources in Dallas. (Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below!) Each school varies slightly so be sure to do your own research. Note: most applications deadlines are in January. 

DFW Area Classical Schools: 

Coram Deo (Dallas/Flower Mound)

Covenant Classical School – Fort Worth

Founders Classical School

Providence Christian School

The Cambridge School of Dallas

The Covenant School – Dallas

West Dallas Community School

Great Hearts (Irving)

Covenant Christian Academy (Colleyville)

The Highlander School (Lake Highlands)

Faith Lutheran (Plano)

Messiah Lutheran Classical Academy (Keller)

Homeschool Resources: 

Classical Conversations

Public School Supplementary Program: 

Classical Connections

 

 

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24 Responses to Why I Chose a Classical School for My Children

  1. Emily January 12, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    Two other classical education options in DFW:

    Faith Lutheran School in Plano

    Messiah Lutheran Classical Academy in Keller

    Thank you for sharing the benefits of a classical education!

    • Lee Cordon
      Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Thank you Emily! I will add those to the list!

    • Amy S. Crawford January 13, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

      Thank you for mentioning both Faith Lutheran School of Plano and Messiah Lutheran in Keller! I was going to say the same thing! My daughter has attended FLS for seven years – wonderful school, fantastic curriculum, Christian-focused education. We love it!

      • Lee Cordon
        Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

        Thanks so much, Amy! So good to hear! Please share the post to spread the word about classical education. I had no idea what it was until we moved to Dallas and someone (thankfully) shared it with me!

  2. Inga Cotton January 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    My kids are getting a classical education at a Great Hearts charter school in San Antonio. Great Hearts also has a campus in Irving: http://www.greatheartstx.org/great-hearts-irving/

    • Meredith Stegall January 13, 2016 at 1:53 am #

      Good catch. My son attends Great Hearts Irving, a wonderful classical charter school.

    • Lee Cordon
      Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Great – I will add that to the list. Thank you both!

  3. Robyn January 12, 2016 at 8:55 pm #

    Don’t forget The Highlander School in Lake Highlands.

    • Lee Cordon
      Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 11:07 am #

      Okay great. I will add that to the list, too! Thank you!

      • Lee Cordon
        Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

        Added, thanks!

  4. Sheila McDoniel January 12, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

    Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville is also a Classical school in the area.

    • Lee Cordon
      Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 11:05 am #

      Thank you Shelia! I will add this to the list!

  5. Ken Adams January 13, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    Lee, thank you for the great article. As a fellow Providence parent and an alumni of Cisterican (another school with a strict Classical approach) I couldn’t agree with you more. When I finished Cistercian in 12th grade and went to college, I found that my classical education had prepared me so well that I was able to earn enough hours for college graduation in 2 1/2 years. As a physician and a health care administrator working directly in the IT field, I can’t emphasize enough to parents to not be fooled by educators who think that having children on iPads at an early age is beneficial. It simply is not. It does help teachers who are overwhelmed by class size but quick screen refresh times and cartoon characters “teaching” math facts simply leads to children unable to sit and concentrate for extended periods of time or have meaningful interpersonal interactions.

    • Lee Cordon
      Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      Thank you, Ken, for sharing your experience and thoughts! I appreciate it!

  6. DeeDee Aarseth January 13, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    Coram Deo also has a Collin County (North Plano) location. Prek-12.

    • Lee Cordon
      Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

      DeeDee I did not know that, thank you!

  7. AmyBean January 13, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    Thank you for this great article.

    Grace Academy of North Texas in Prosper is also classical offering Pre-K through 12th grade.

    • Lee Cordon
      Lee Cordon January 13, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

      Thank you, Amy! I will add that to the list, too!

  8. Nikki Weiss January 16, 2016 at 12:43 am #

    Legacy Classical Christian Academy in Haslet (N. Ft. Worth) is offers a great classical education.

  9. Nikki Weiss January 16, 2016 at 12:45 am #

    Legacy Classical Christian Academy in Haslet (N. Ft. Worth) offers a great classical education. The teachers genuinely care and the students are respectful and helpful.

  10. Natasha Cole June 13, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    Hi Lee,
    I was wondering if you are willing to share some thoughts about your daughter’s experience at Great Hearts now that the school year has ended? We have one child that was accepted for next year, so we are very curious as to other families’ experiences with the charter. Any additional information about grading or the overall environment would be wonderful to know! Thanks for blogging!

  11. Natasha Cole June 14, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    Correction: If anyone with kids at Great Hearts is willing to share any info, that would be great.

  12. Rachel October 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    My sons go to Founders Classical Academy in Lewisville and I could not be more happy with the education they are receiving. We switched over from public school in Flower Mound 3rd grade and I have seen a huge difference in the amount my son is learning and it has been fantastic for him!

  13. Matt Jamison February 1, 2017 at 10:04 am #

    We recently moved from New Jersey to Plano in order to enroll our children at Faith Lutheran. We are extremely pleased, not just with our school, but with the all-around affordable quality of life in this area. Its encouraging to see there are so many Classical education options in DFW and I hope we can work together to benefit our students and educate people about this option.

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