Everyone's talking about "the new normal" these days. Most of us really don't know what exactly this "new normal" is going to look like, or how long it will last, or how different it will be from our current state.
What we do know is this: what is "normal" in Grammar School at Veritas Academy is anything but "normal." We see this each time a family comes into our school for a tour, or visits their child's classroom for a special event. It's not uncommon for the everyday learning activities at Veritas to elicit tears of joy in parents.
That's because the Grammar School model of Classical Christian Education means that a normal school week is abundantly joyful. It's immersive. Biblical. Inspiring. Active. Engaging. When kids go into their classrooms, they're transported to another place and time together, soaking in a multitude of facts about history, math, reading, science, and God's word.
And no matter what the "new normal" will look like come this fall, we can promise you that those things will stay true for the students at Veritas Academy. Our school is actively consulting and working with medical professionals, elected officials, and other local and regional schools to discern and plan how we will reopen safely this fall. Beyond that, we're working on ways that at-risk students and concerned families can participate in school safely outside the classroom, applying all the great tools we learned over this past quarter, to ensure that all Veritas families can receive this kind of exceptional education.
So, would you like to know what a "normal" day is like in Grammar School at Veritas Academy? We would be delighted to show you! Since we can't yet invite friends into our school to walk through our classrooms first hand, we've created a sort of "virtual tour" of Grammar School to help prospective (and current!) Veritas parents get a feel for the unique culture of learning that happens here.
Read on to discover what Grammar School is, and why it works to lay the foundation for a lifelong love of learning and for the critical thinking to come in the next step of a child's Classical Christian Education.
First: What is "Grammar School?"
While many of us think of sentence structure and punctuation when we hear the word grammar, the term is also traditionally defined as "the basic elements of an area of knowledge or skill."
That is what we impart in Grammar School at Veritas Academy and in Classical Christian Schools across the world. We provide kids with the essentials, the tools of knowledge they need as a foundation to build upon as they grow into the more advanced Logic and Rhetoric Stages, where they can dive deeper into that knowledge and learn how to wisely apply it through reasoning and dialectic.
But the key is, this type of learning is anything but "basic."
Acknowledging the unique stages in a child's development, and the strengths, limitations, and capabilities of their minds at each phase, the Classical Model allows students to learn the way they were designed to learn. And that is what makes it so effective...and so much fun!
Second graders may not be ready to intelligently debate the morality of a social issue, but they can learn what worked and didn't work throughout history in stories, and then have a solid base of knowledge to exercise their reasoning and debating muscles when they move into the middle school "Logic" phase. Grammar school gives them the basics that they will need to apply in the more advanced learning to come, helping to cultivate students who are confident, critical thinkers and exceptional communicators.
The method by which we impart this "basic" knowledge is another thing that sets Classical Christian Education apart. Capitalizing on young children's love of memorizing and hunger for new information, we use tools to help kids soak in and remember these facts so that they remain in their hearts and minds for life.
Songs, chants, active learning, immersive events, quick-recall games, and more work together to strengthen these kids' ability to retain and learn new information. Through joyful traditions like our morning Memory Period (where students gather to sing and dance through their history songs, geography songs, latin and math chants, hymns and more), and daily classroom times of shouting out their knowledge in unison, the children will amaze you with the vast amount of information they amass in their minds on a given year. Watch a second grader name every country on a blank map of Africa without flinching, and you'll see what we mean.
How We Teach and Learn in Grammar School
The Classical Grammar School model - which employs centuries-old techniques that are proven and repeatable - allows students to advance quickly through the curriculum. Our school year may be shorter than many local schools' (Veritas families love our Labor Day to Memorial Day schedule!), and we don't skimp on recess time at all, but that doesn't mean that these kids don't pack a lot of learning into each day.
Our rich and varied curriculum keeps kids active and engaged and puts them leaps ahead in math, writing, reading, and more. Consider, for example Veritas fourth graders, who read and discuss the full text of Beowulf and confidently translate Latin. Or the fact that all Veritas seventh graders take Algebra 1, being fully prepared and beginning the study of algebra in sixth and even fifth grade.
You can read more about each of these curriculum points on our Explore Grammar School page, and the individual "Explore" pages for each grade linked there.
- Through songs, chants, motions, repetition, rapid-fire games and more, kids will amass a vast amount of knowledge, and have fun doing it (bonus: thanks to the catchy songs and chants, you'll probably learn it along with them)!
Cumulative, Immersive History
- Each grade studies a distinct part of history, with the next grade's studies building upon the previous. Check out our 2nd - 6th grade class pages to see how everything from classroom decor, to special events, to kids' costumes, literature, and more tie into the theme and make it each year distinct and memorable!
- Cursive is taught beginning in second grade, and starting in kindergarten children practice honing their handwriting and fine motor skills and taking pride in neatness.
Mathematics Facts and Skills
- Classically educated kids are often about a year ahead of their traditionally-educated peers in math by the time they leave sixth grade. Our small class sizes and dedicated teachers help ensure that all kids stay on pace. Oh, and no, we don't use Common Core.
- Kindergarten and first grade reading curriculum relies heavily on teaching phonics - the rules of sounds, blends, and more - to help kids understand early how to figure out words, not by guessing according to pictures or always relying on cues, but truly understanding how to form and read the words.
- Speaking of a strong foundation in reading, Classically educated kids need it for sure. Our students read books that are traditionally up to a grade or two above their level, and they devour these books with excitement.
- Latin is far from dead at Veritas Academy. In fact, it's very much alive, and being used to help students understand history, language, and vocabulary. Students begin learning Latin in second grade at Veritas.
- You won't find any "cuts" to fine arts programs at Veritas. Students attend weekly music, choir, and art classes, and are each given the opportunity to learn a stringed instrument in our high-caliber Strings Explorers program and Grammar School orchestra.
- First through third grade students have one science class per week, and fourth through sixth graders get two science classes per week, all taught from a Biblical perspective that awakens and feeds a child's sense of wonder and excitement about the world God has created. (Want to sit in on some of our virtual science classes with our wonderful teacher Miss Esbenshade? Sign up for a free Virtual Class Audit!)
If this sounds like the kind of school your child - and you - would love, then we would love to have you join our community! We invite you to RSVP for a private virtual tour, where our Admissions Director will introduce you to teachers and current students, answer you questions, and show you what makes Veritas distinctive its culture of excellence and joy in our curriculum, our community, and in Christ. We welcome you!