Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
When I was first began learning about homeschooling, I stumbled across the book Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. The authors’ premise is that delayed formal academics often fit better with the growth and development of children than the current early childhood education movement. As a mother of toddlers at that time, this idea resonated with me.
At the heart of the better late than early concept is the idea that children progress through various phases in their learning. Many educational philosophers over the years, including well-known Jean Piaget, have agreed. The educational philosophy known as Leadership Education (or Thomas Jefferson Education) divides this progression into four specific phases.
Though I wouldn’t define our family as Leadership Education purists (Which homeschooling family can fit within the constraints of one single philosophy?!), I do keep the four phases of learning in mind as they pertain to our homeschooling environment.
1. Core Phase (Ages 0-8)
Photo by woodley wonderworks
The core phase child’s main objectives are to learn the lessons of good and bad, true and false, and right and wrong. He does this by spending the majority of his time at home with the family while learning through play. Contributing to the family through learning chores is also an important goal for a child at this age.
Academics are not yet a part of life for a child in core phase. The Leadership Education parent seeks to surround his child with an inspiring environment–good books, music, and an atmosphere of lifelong learning.
This sets the stage for more formal academics in the future.
2. Love of Learning Phase (Ages 8-12)
Around age eight, a child who has had a strong, solid core phase will naturally evolve, according to Leadership Education ideology, to the next phase–Love of Learning. During love of learning, children begin to pursue learning in ways that begin to look more like formal study, but really they’re still playing.
The parent’s job at this stage is to follow up with the child’s inspiration–and to implement the seven keys of great teaching. Children in the love of learning phase are still free to follow their own interests without forced study requirements–therefore they study what excites them.
3. Scholar Phase (Ages 12-16)
Photo by Vancouver Film School
A child who has been raised in a leadership education home until the age of twelve will naturally transition to more scholarly pursuits, eventually having the inner motivation to study eight to twelve hours a day (Um, hello, sign me up for that!).
Parents should lighten the scholar’s other home responsibilities when possible to allow as much time for study as the student needs. The majority of topics studied will still be those of interest to the student, but there will also come a point where they seek to fill in any educational gaps in order to proceed to the final educational phase.
4. Depth Phase (Ages 16-22)
During depth phase the student begins to be mentored extensively by someone other than the parent/teacher. She begins to want to go deeper into a particular area of study and is discovering a sense of personal mission, coming up with ideas for her future.
The bulk of depth phase typically takes place in a college/university setting.
Schooling along with the phases makes a mom’s job easier in many ways. As we keep in mind our children’s maturity levels and natural tendencies to learn, we reduce stress in our home and set everyone up for more educational success.
- Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning
- A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century
- A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion
- Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens
- Thomas Jefferson Education official site
Does it make sense to you that children progress through a variety of learning phases? Why or why not?