Elementary School: the Grammar Stage
All humans by nature desire to know.
If Aristotle is correct, that means that all humans–children included–have a fundamental desire to learn. In their early years, knowledge is imbued with wonder. Thus, the early Elementary years, known to classical education as the “Grammar” stage, are a time of broad learning. Children possess a natural curiosity, and this habit of wonder is fed by great stories, nature study, geography, history, poetry, music, art, and Holy Scripture. But it is also a time for foundational learning, for establishing the basis for further studies. Students receive rigorous instruction in phonics, reading, handwriting, catechesis, Latin and Greek roots, and math facts. We learn the grammar of language as well as the “grammar” of mathematics, theology, history, and science. In the Upper Elementary years (4-6), students use their skills and habits for deep, focused studies of science and history. Finally, students are trained to learn in a community with appropriate habits of order, respect, and kindness in light of the virtue of charity. In short, the Grammar stage is marked by a balance of wonder and rigor.