Can Martial Arts Integrate Well into a Classical Education?

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We recently partnered with Active Martial Arts out of Mill Creek for our physical education (PE) program. Our students will be doing one hour of martial arts each week in place of a more traditional PE class. The more we thought about the practice of martial arts the more excited we got about how well it seems to fit within the classical methodology.

The three stages of classical education are grammar, logic, and rhetoric. As a kindergarten through eighth grade campus, our focus is more on the grammar and logic stages. In the grammar stage, the main goal is for the students to work on building their foundation of knowledge through the memorization of facts. This is accomplished by repetition in chants, song, movements, written work, visual aids, and so much more. We want our students to experience learning with their whole body! In the logic stage, middle school students are at a time in their life where it is natural for them to question everything and even be a bit argumentative. Our goal in this stage is to take the foundation of knowledge that they worked on in the grammar phase and build upon it. However, the focus now is getting them more consistently to a deeper level of thinking, correctly questioning what they are learning so they know the “why” behind the questions and answers, as well as help them develop an eloquent way to question and answer questions they may be asked. Our overarching theme across all three stages is that students are constantly seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in all things, while filtering the world through our Christian lens.

At this point, you may be asking yourself how this all relates to the study of the martial arts. In the typical martial arts classroom, there are many discussions about what it means to have discipline and what virtues that incorporates. Students get the opportunity to practice this during each session as they are held to a high standard of respecting authority and those around you, self-control, determination, perseverance, and so much more. Students develop patience as they strive to accomplish more difficult skills as they progress in the program, and they are encouraged in failure and success. Learning martial arts is a full body experience where the mind, body, and soul are engaged.

At Kardia Classical School, one of our main goals is to teach the whole child. A child is not just their brain, their body, or their soul. They are all three working as one and learning new skills while using all three will be the most beneficial and reap the best rewards. The study of martial arts, and the methodology of classical education can be a beautiful marriage that complement each other is many ways. We can’t wait to see all that our students learn martial arts this coming year, and how it affects their overall education.

For more information on local martial arts classes, check out http://activemartialartsmillcreek.com/

Written by – Lacey Hvattum – Head of School

Five Best Practices For Retaining School Learning Over A Long Break (aka, Summer!)

Has the pandemic affected your kids’ education? So many of our kids have been impacted in their studies! Now more than ever, there’s a need to not only keep what you have learned so far but catch back up, too!

Not only that but we are constantly bombarded with distractions and entertainment. Although these often are good in moderation, how can you keep your kids’ brains engaged over the summer break? 

If, as it’s been said, kids lose 2 ½ months of learning over the summer, how can you help your kids get a good start next year, without losing all that learning? Here are some ways that we’ve come up from years of educational experience to help your kids retain their learning: 

  1. Daily reading
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Try setting a timer for them, and helping them to pick out stories or facts that they are excited about. Libraries, book clubs, and more can help. You might try a series of classics, or perhaps reward them with watching the movie for it once they read the novel (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe; Anne of Green Gables; Little Women; there are so many available now!)

  1. Daily Math Fact Practice
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Taking a few minutes per day to practice their math skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) can really help them surge ahead instead of lagging behind. Flashcards, singing, or even some sort of game can really help! There are also online games and programs for a once-a-week treat (try Fridays) to change it up and keep it interesting!

  1. Daily Journal Entry
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This is a great option, especially if they are introspective or have an exciting break planned! It can be so fun for them to look back and remember how they felt when they went on the airplane…or that night you made a new s’mores combo while camping…or the first time they experienced the ocean. Get them a journal they like, and encourage them to personalize it. Younger kids can draw a picture with one sentence, whereas older kids can write a paragraph a day. You can even give them a writing prompt if they can’t think of anything!

  1. Daily Bible Reading
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If you’re so inclined, you can even give them “home” memory verses each week. If they are young, find a good time to read the Bible to them daily when you first wake up, or when they go to bed, are both easy to keep consistent. If they are older kids, you might make a reading schedule for them-Psalms, Proverbs, and the Gospels are especially relatable for many beginners. 

Either way, keeping this one element in your life over a break can help in so many, many ways. Try it and see what difference it makes for your family!

  1. Other Special Interests
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A wonderful way to encourage kids to learn (and yourself, for that matter!) is to specialize in whatever they are passionate about. Cars, engineering, fashion design, animals, reading and writing, foreign languages, sports…using this to create excitement about retaining their learning can be a key way to have actual fun! 

Maybe you can discuss math fractions during a baking activity. Or shoot a hoop for every math fact recited. Make an artistic drawing of spelling words (we’ve done that one!). Play songs in a foreign language when driving. Taking a road trip? Find some audiobooks the whole family can enjoy!

Photo by William Bout on Unsplash

Whatever you choose to do, having a consistent habit of some activities that boost learning and reinforce what they’ve learned will help them be more confident when they return, and it only takes a simple application for a few minutes each day. Building a habit of learning will At the end of the break, you and your kids will be glad that you made the commitment! 

For more great information from Joanna Bischoff, visit her blog at https://homelifepurpose.com/

25 Ways To Keep Younger Siblings Busy During Homeschooling

Would you like to homeschool, but aren’t sure what to do with all the different ages? 

If you don’t have access to daycare options (or a family that’s got the time!), then you may find yourself juggling little ones and the needs for the attention of the school-aged child. Of course, they can play with their toys, etc, but at some point, they’ll need another option! Every child and every family is different in dynamic, but for these first few pivotal years, it helps to have quick go-to ideas! 

Here at Kardia Classical School, we are in the Pacific Northwest, so that means tons of rain! We have plenty of indoor activities for those indoor days—but don’t forget to take advantage of your sunny days when you have them! 

Babies

They can play with the same toys at this age and not get too bored! Try taking them out in fresh air if you can—it works wonders, especially with babies. Soft music can be soothing, too. Flexibility is really key when you’ve got an infant in the house, and that applies in homeschooling, too! One of the best ways is to have things prepped in such a way that the school-aged sibling can do work independently. Also, sometimes your key school times for one-on-one interaction are going to be those precious nap times! Some babies do great in a bouncer if they can see the family working. Give yourself and your homeschooling grace in this season! 

Toddlers

The older your baby gets, the bigger the range of options! At this age, they want a little more challenge and, thankfully, have slightly longer play periods. They also can play independently at these ages. One way to handle it is to have “stations” or perhaps boxes that you switch out one at a time. 

  1. Sensory boxes
  2. Coloring pages or books
  3. Magnetic building blocks
  4. Cookie sheet with magnetic shapes, blocks, or letters
  5. Anything that involves putting things into containers. Recycle an oatmeal can, for instance, and put large objects or toys in and out of it. 
  6. If you’re brave, chocolate pudding “finger paint”; it will get messy!
  7. High chair time with snacks or even an activity-if they’re the sitting type!
  8. Solid Tempera Paint Sticks for washable painting fun!
  9. Wagon wheel dry pasta with pipe cleaners for patterning, making shapes, and more

Preschoolers

Once your littles reach the older ages, they can sit for longer periods of time-but, not usually the full amount of school time! They’ll get longer times for their “stations” (or however you plan it), but they still will wander quite a bit between activities. There are some great at-home preschool curriculum options, but you’ll want more for them to do! Here are some ideas: 

  1. Foam or stacking blocks
  2. Duplos
  3. Magnetic blocks
  4. Dress-up sets or wooden dress-up dolls
  5. Coloring books
  6. Whiteboard + easy wash marker
  7. Dot paint
  8. Self-inking stamps +paper
  9. Stiff cardstock and glue sticks-purple will tell you where the glue is!
  10. Early scissors skills
  11. Kinetic sand with tools or small hard plastic animals in a tall-sided box! 
  12. Linking blocks or similar
  13. Playdough and tools
  14. Shaving cream on the table or in a bag
  15. Puzzles
  16. Books, especially simple look and finds

Most of the time, the younger siblings like to be involved and feel like they’re a part of it. We do Bible storytime on the couch; many homeschooling families have a “morning basket”. Also, we were able to have three desks, and although our youngest at the time wasn’t really of an age to sit at it, I knew the ownership of space would quickly come into play. If you have a shelf with desk “stations” you’ll want to quickly make space for the youngest kids! 

One of the most helpful things we’ve found as a homeschooling family is having Kardia’s curriculum. They offer videos for the harder subjects, a daily schedule, and a suggested curriculum list! It’s been a lifesaver for time and energy—and, often, the older ones will watch a (short) video and then do their lesson while I’m getting the youngest settled, changed, cleaned up, or otherwise responded to. If you don’t live in the local area, they do offer a full online tuition option. Check it out here! 

Also, feel free to download this fun and handy printable pdf below of younger sibling activity ideas, so that you’ve got something to have in hand! Enjoy! Let us know if you’ve got more suggestions for things for siblings to do! 

For more great information from Joanna Bischoff, visit her blog at https://homelifepurpose.com/

Why a Well-Rounded Education Includes Music

I recently had a conversation with a music teacher friend of mine about our early memories of attending music class in elementary school.  My earliest memories don’t actually start until at least fourth grade.  Here’s what I remember: 

We sang, “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” and “Country Roads, Take Me Home” at our concert. Our accompanist was the PE teacher, and he only had 9 fingers (I marveled at how he could play the piano so beautifully with only nine). Our music teacher played the saw.  Yes, you read that right…the SAW!  She played it in every concert! That’s it until junior high and high school.

At first glance, it looks like I didn’t really learn or retain anything and that my time in class was wasted.  In our culture, especially with our heightened focus on STEM education, educational success must be quantifiable and measurable in order to be considered valid.  But there are many benefits to music class that are NOT quantifiable, and we shouldn’t overlook them.

Collaboration and cooperation

In music class in elementary school, I learned to make music with others. I learned to collaborate with others while practicing and performing in ensembles. I also learned to be tolerant with classmates with a variety of skills.  I learned to be kind and to listen to others and their contributions.  And I began to develop leadership qualities.

Brain Growth

In music class, my brain grew and my neural pathways became stronger.  Studies have shown that nothing grows and develops neural pathways in the brain more quickly and efficiently than making music.

Emotional intelligence

I also had opportunities to develop emotional intelligence in music class.  Music awakens emotions in ways that nothing else can.  As we listened to various music selections and talked about them, I could hear and feel passion, peace, stormy anger, intense joy, and much more.  In our discussions of how the music portrayed each emotion, I learned about an entire LIBRARY of emotions, some of which I was not familiar with.

Communication

In music class, I practiced communication skills.  In collaborating with others, discussing music selections in the class, and performing music in front of our parents in our concerts, I began to develop a variety of communication skills.  Among those skills was the ability to stand in front of an audience and share myself with them.

The Language of Music

Among the more obvious and quantifiable skills, of course, are the skills of reading musical notation.  Music is a language all its own, and one learns to read AND express it as such.  I learned note names, note values, and music vocabulary which introduced me to the Italian language.  And as I learned to read these, I also learned to express myself using this special language.

Though not measurable in the same way that knowing our multiplication tables is measurable, music is nonetheless extremely important to students’ education.  Students who may not excel in traditional academic classes often find their niche in the arts or sports. The boost in their self-esteem and self-worth may not be quantifiable, but it is so valuable.  Likewise, the increased academic performance due to brain growth and the growth of neural pathways cannot be measured.  And don’t forget: music is fun!  Every kid needs a break from the daily grind and the opportunity to spend time with something that brings them enjoyment.  All work and no play isn’t healthy for anyone.

Music should play a role in every child’s education.  They are more likely to grow up productive, emotionally healthy, and well-rounded when music plays a central role in their schooling.  I think I’m going to track down my husband’s saw in the garage and a spare violin bow and try learning a new instrument.

Written by: Leslie Schmunk – Kardia Classical School’s Music Teacher

What Does “Parent Partnership” Mean?

We have all heard the phrase “parents know best!” and it is true that no one prioritizes your child’s development as much as you do. At the same time, we should remember that there is no substitute for a trained professional when it comes to education and no better situation for a child than to have parents and teachers working in concert. Children really have the best of both worlds when these two important people in their lives work together to facilitate a positive and successful learning environment. You may be asking yourself how this partnership can work in a hybrid model school. Yes, our students are homeschooling part-time and, in the classroom, part-time, however, this model lends itself to a greater need for communication between parents and teachers. With this added communication, the students are taught in a way that best suits them and their individual needs at home and in the classroom.

The five main pillars of our parent partnership have been carefully crafted to make sure that we are all doing our best to make each child’s school year a successful one. First, we are a community of faith-based families who support a faith-based education. It is so important to be on the same page when it comes to foundational beliefs. Second, we have a structured environment with accountability and grace. We want our students to know that they will be held accountable for their work and their actions, but there is also grace when needed. Third, we have high academic expectations at home and school. We have seen repeatedly throughout the years, that when you set high academic standards, children will often surprise you by meeting and even exceeding those standards. They are more capable than we often give them credit for. Fourth, we believe in educating the whole child: mind, body, and soul. Education is not just about academics. It is about seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in everything that we see and do. We want to help instill virtue in our students so that when they go out into the world, they will be able to positively impact their community. Fifth, our goal is to create a culture of lifelong learners. Education is not only a privilege that not all children get, but it is something that should be continued throughout their lives. We should always work towards bettering ourselves and continuing the journey of being image-bearers of Christ.

Written by: Lacey Hvattum – Head of School

What Does it Mean to be a “Classical School?”

What does it mean that Kardia is a “classical” school? When we say that we are classical, we are talking about an innovative yet ancient method of teaching children. In explaining what this type of education entails, it is helpful to think about the three steps involved with learning a new language and relate them to a child’s cognitive development. In the first step, you must acquire the raw materials of the language. In other words, you must memorize a large number of words that don’t yet fit together into eloquent sentences. Next, you must learn how these verbs, nouns, etc. fit together and the rules involved with their usage. Finally, armed with adequate vocabulary and the rules of the particular language, you can hold meaningful conversations and even compose literature of many kinds.

In a classical education setting, we recognize that the brains of grammar students are primed to acquire all sorts of facts and data about various subjects-as in the beginning stage of learning a language. You may have noticed younger children rattling off facts about obscure topics, say dinosaurs, simply because they are excited to acquire new information. We start to see a shift of interests in middle school students (also known as logic students). They are more interested in asking “why?” rather than memorizing interesting facts. They want to make sense of the world they have spent over a decade observing. These students thrive in an environment where they are not only encouraged to question things but are taught how to properly reason and think critically. Finally, in the high school years true proficiency is achieved. As with learning a new language, the last step is where skills have been polished to the point where they are their most meaningful. Students not only understand the subjects in which they have been immersed, but they can eloquently demonstrate it. This is called the rhetoric stage because the student is able to apply the rules learned in the logic stage and expertly and persuasively communicate.

Kardia Classical School is committed to classical education because of the difference we have seen it make in students over the many years our teachers and parents have been implementing it. Our curriculum focuses on pairing developmentally appropriate methods with training in virtue and spiritual development. Our hybrid model of in-class and at-home work allows parents to have a hand in their child’s education while benefiting from the planning, lessons, and support of certified teachers who are passionate about classical education. 

Written by: Kristofer Hvattum – Kardia Classical School’s Chairman of the Board