Science & Classical Education

I am so excited to welcome author and homeschooling mom, Paige Hudson, to The Homeschool Scientist. She will be with us all week sharing her love for science and how she teaches it within the classical homeschooling model.


Science is a subject near and dear to my heart.  My favorite subject in high school was chemistry and I went onto pursue my love of science in college.  So when we decided to homeschool our daughter, I knew that science would definitely be a part of her educational journey, what I didn’t know was that I would go on to write homeschool science curriculum!

We have chosen to follow the classical education model that is laid out in The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer in our homeschool.  The goal of this classical education model is to produce a well-rounded student who knows how to learn and science is one of the key subjects.  I thought I would share a bit more on classical education and how science fits into that method of instruction.

What is classical education?

Classical education in a nutshell is an educational model that focuses on teaching the student to think critically as well as training them to be familiar with how to learn.  Classical education doesn’t believe that you will be able to cover everything in the 12+ years the student is in school, rather it cover the highlights and provides the student with the skills to know how to fill in the gaps on their own.

There are several flavors of classical education in the homeschool world; the most notable are Susan Wise Bauer (The Well-trained Mind), the Bluedorns (Teaching the Trivium), Leigh Bortins (The Core) and Charlotte Mason (Ambleside Online).  Each one teaches that there are stages, or cycles, of learning that every student goes through in their educational journey.  Students begin with the grammar stage, which is typically defined as the elementary years.  Then they progress into the logic, or dialectic stage, which is typically defined as the middle school years.  Finally, the students finish with the rhetoric stage, which is typically defined as the high school years.  In each stage, you are teaching to their strengths and working on building the skills that will became their strengths in the next stage.

How does science fit into the classical education model?

Science is taught like any other subject in the classical education model.    You focus on the different skills of the subject that are appropriate for each stage while seeking to build their knowledge base at each level.  In the grammar stage you are working on sharing basics, in the logic stage you are building on the foundational by asking why things are the way they are, and in the rhetoric stage you are analyzing what you know and learning how to apply it to what you don’t know.

For science, The Well-trained Mind suggests that you do this by following a four year cycle, with each year focusing on a different field of science.  In year 1 you focus on biology, in year 2 you focus on earth science & astronomy, in year 3 you focus on chemistry and in year 4 you focus on physics.  Then you rinse and repeat, digging deeper into each disciple as you progress through the stages.  The other flavors of classical education have similar goals, but different nuances in how those goals are carried out day to day.

The traditional standards vs. classical science

So how does classical science compare to the traditional scope and sequence found in the public school?  Well classical science does not follow the typical state standards in order, but if you complete the cycle, you will cover all the same topics plus a bit more.  The typical standards don’t usually cover chemistry or physics in depth before high school, so the classical student will have a leg up in these areas.

The student who is classically educated will have studied each discipline twice before reaching high school.  This means that they will have the basic principles of a field of science down pat, so that, in high school they can focus on learning the more difficult principles as well as learning the math behind the science.  While the classical student won’t follow the traditional model, they will be well prepared for high school science and eventually college level science when they get there.

The nitty, gritty…

If all this sounds daunting, it’s really not!  There are many books to explain how to do this (see the list of authors above), plus I have written a curriculum, called Elemental Science, that lays out how to teach classical science in your homeschool.  If you want to see what a week looks like with classical science education, you can read a blog series that I did on Physics for the Grammar Stage.  There are also great moms who have gone before you at the Well-trained Mind forums that are more than willing to answer your questions.   Teaching classical science in your homeschool does take a bit of effort on your part, but the results are worth the time and energy.

For more information on Science and the Classical Education Model, don’t miss Paige’s series starting tomorrow on The Homeschool Scientist as she walks us through how science looks at each stage of classical education!

Paige Hudson is an author and homeschooling mom.  She writes science curriculum for homeschoolers which you can view at the Elemental Science website.  She also has a passion for sharing the wonders of science, which is why she writes the bi-weekly Science Corner at Elemental Blogging. She holds a BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and currently resides in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia with her husband and 2 children. 






  1. […] Science and Classical Education:  If you’ve wondered how science fits into the classical education model, you’ll want to read this article written for the Homeschool Scientist by yours truly.  I also wrote three more posts for her blog about how to teach science to the grammar, logic and rhetoric stages. […]

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