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The Logic Level: Ten Things to Do From Ages 13-15

By Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #32, 1999.

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Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn


When children reach the logic stage, homeschooling becomes interesting! Early teens are developing into thinking, questioning, reasoning creatures. They are no longer content to know what happened; they want to know why. To put this all in computer terms: children were still "booting up" in the pre-grammar stage (birth to approximately age ten), they were "keying in" the information in the grammar stage (ages ten to twelve), but now, in the logic stage (ages thirteen to fifteen), they have begun "processing" the information.

Alas, at this stage many parents become distressed because the curriculum is getting more difficult, and the children are asking more complex questions. We are no longer allowed to teach mere capitalization rules and addition facts. We must now begin to exercise our minds with our children!

Because these children are developing the ability to think abstractly, we parents are being challenged to move out of our post-secondary-school-days comfort zone. As a result, many parents retire from homeschooling and send their children off to a classroom school.

But this is not at all the time to give up. We encourage parents to persevere to the end. Remember, homeschooling is for parents. The kids are just coming along for the ride!

Homeschooling is for Parents

How many of us went through school without learning anything in general, or without remembering anything in particular? We were neither interested nor motivated. We were simply serving our twelve-year sentence. We now have another opportunity to learn these things as we teach them to our children. We have the opportunity to learn such things as:

  • the math we never understood
  • the science from a Christian instead of from a naturalistic perspective
  • the history they never taught us
  • the classical language they never offered us
  • the logic they never allowed us to use

Homeschooling saves two generations: first the parents, then the children.

Logic Stage is Time for Independent Studies

Children in the logic stage should be more independent in their studies and should need less academic one-on-one attention from their parents in certain subjects. The amount of time the parents spend teaching at this level hinges on what kind of curricula they use. Use self-teaching materials whenever possible.

Family Worship

In the logic stage, the child should be developing theologically. He doesn't just know what the Bible says (the story line); he is developing an idea of what it means - the more subtle connections and their implications. God is three persons in one essence. Christ is one person in two natures. Only in Christ can God be both just and gracious to the sinner. Family worship is more than just a nice thing to add on at your convenience. Suggested time: Family worship - 45 minutes per day, personal devotions - 15 minutes per day.

Math

Since algebra and geometry are an application of logic to arithmetic, they will be best understood by students in the logic stage, which begins for most students at about age thirteen. The study of math will be the same in the classical approach as in any approach. As you study the concept of the trivium, you will understand why you don't try to teach a ten-year-old (grammar stage student) algebra or geometry. Thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds will study algebra I and II. A fifteen-year-old will study geometry. Saxon's Algebra I and II and Geometry by Harold Jacobs are good self-teaching materials. Suggested time: 45 minutes per day.

Logic

Age thirteen is an ideal time to begin the study of logic. The perfect logic textbook for homeschoolers has not yet been written. At this time, the most user-friendly texts are Critical Thinking Books 1 & 2 (Critical Thinking Books and Software). These books include some political correctness, but you will recognize it immediately and can point it out and teach around it. It takes two to three years to complete both books. Suggested time: 20-30 minutes per day.

Science

When students were in the grammar stage, they made observations, investigated all sorts of things in the world around them, and generally learned to love science. Now that they are in the logic stage, students will study the different scientific fields (earth science, physics, chemistry, and biology) and learn to conduct experiments in each of these fields. We recommend that the student enter a science fair or science project contest each year. (See our list of national contests in Practical Homeschooling # 23.)

This type of project usually takes several months to complete. A thirteen-year-old could begin with a simple project involving some special interest which the student has (rock collecting, cooking, growing flowers). A fifteen-year-old's project would be more complex. When our son Nathaniel was thirteen years old, his first science fair project involved varying the payloads of model rockets. When he was fifteen, he made wine under hyperbaric (high air pressure) conditions. Working on a science project incorporates grammar and logic, library research (collecting data), verbal communication skills (interviewing people and talking to the science fair judge), writing (each project needs to be written up), deciding on an hypothesis, analyzing the data and coming to a conclusion. Suggested time: 2 hours per week.

History, Literature, Composition

History, literature, and composition can be studied together as a unit. Here are some suggestions as to what to include (suggested time: 60-90 minutes per day):

  1. Whether history is studied chronologically or by interest, be sure the student understands where events fit into the overall scheme of time. (See point 5 below.)

  2. Keep an organized three-ring notebook filled with notes, outlines, drawings, essays and narrations.

  3. Students in the logic stage will do lots of reading and writing. Read biographies, autobiographies, and journals which correspond to the time period being studied, and outline or write narrations of these books.

  4. Consult primary sources as much as possible. This includes literature written during the time period being studied (fiction, essays, plays, orations, etc.). When you study early American history, read Bradford's History of Plymouth. When you study the history of the American Constitution, read the Constitution and the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. The student could outline or write narrations of these pieces of literature, or answer essay questions. The Critical Thinking in United States History series (Critical Thinking Books and Software) teaches students how to apply logic to history by analyzing and evaluating primary sources.

  5. Continue the family timeline you began when the student was in the grammar stage. Timelines, especially when compiled by the student, will give him an idea of what happened in relationship to other events. "Hey, dad was in college when they landed a man on the moon!" Consult maps, historical atlases, and globes.

  6. Do history projects (to display at your public library or homeschool project fair) and enter history competitions such as National History Day. History projects will require library research, etc.

    Eight years ago our girls studied the styles in hats of the nineteenth century. Part of the display was a poster with pen and ink drawings of all the different Victorian hats and prairie bonnets. I have that poster hanging on the wall by my desk. We have done projects on the lost Louis XVII, Illinois women in WWII, Queen Victoria, the Great Exhibition, and the Illinois Central Railroad.

Speech and Debate

Each month have the student write and present one speech and perform one oral interpretation. It would be best to have the student perform these in front of a group - your homeschool support group or church. A thirteen-year-old's speech might be something simple, such as a report on heartworm in dogs or a description of last summer's vacation. You would expect more from a fifteen-year-old. Some children in the logic stage will be ready to start debate, while some will need to wait until the rhetoric stage. Contact Home School Legal Defense Association for information on the current homeschool debate topic. Suggested time: 2 hours per week (more if participating in debate).

Latin and Greek

Children in the logic stage should continue studying Latin grammar and may add Greek grammar. Since English grammar is best learned by studying a foreign language, the study of English grammar can be discontinued if the child is studying Latin and/or Greek grammar. Don't forget to continue with the Greek and Latin language notebooks. Suggested time: 30-45 minutes per day

Reading Aloud

Don't forget to continue to read aloud to all the children for one to two hours per day from a wide variety of literature, and keep up the narration. Reading aloud may be your favorite part of homeschooling.

Memorization

Logic-level students must continue to exercise their minds with memorization. Material for memorization could include oral interpretation pieces, passages from literature assignments, excerpts from some of the primary source documents in history, or passages written in the original languages from the Bible or classics. Suggested time: 20 minutes per day.

Okay. We've covered the academics for the logic stage. But there is more to say: The classical homeschool is not just Latin and Logic. It is practically a way of life. We've made a bunch of mistakes in our homeschooling. Here's one of them:

Fathers should be more than figuratively the head of your school. Children in the logic stage need their father. Of course, children of all ages need a father's input, but the early teens are crucial. This is especially true with boys - boys need their father's hand as they enter the teen years. It's only been in the past half dozen years that we have begun to realize this in our own family. Oh, to go back and do things right! But perhaps others can learn from our mistakes. If Junior is supposed to be writing out his spelling words and Daddy wants him to help with the lawn mower, by all means let the lawn mower win. Daddy only has so much time with the kids, so make the best use of it.

We suggest fathers take over teaching Greek to the children. It will not only help the children, but help Dad in his study of God's Word.

Logic is also best taught by the father. Here is an excerpt from an essay our oldest son Nate recently wrote: "When I was about thirteen my parents announced we were going to study logic. What thoughts flitted through my anti-intellectual mind I can't rightly say, but I imagine they weren't good. Back then, my father had not yet taken on much of the responsibility for our schooling, and so the burden fell on my mother's shoulders. If you don't know what it is to learn logic with a woman, how can I describe it to you..."

Now, we say this not to imply that mothers can't teach logic, but only to suggest that perhaps it would be helpful if fathers took this over.

Next time we will discuss the rhetoric stage and let you know about some other mistakes we have made in homeschooling.


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