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Simply Classical is Simply Amazing

Simply Classical is Simply Amazing

(The following is a guest post from True North Homeschool Academy teacher Amy Vickrey, MSE)

I first heard about Cheryl Swope and her approach to Classical Education through my volunteer work with SPED Homeschool.  The more I heard, the more I was interested in learning more. So, I finally took the time to read Simply Classical, A Beautiful Education for Any Child.  

With Simply Classical, I learned a lot about Classical Education in general and discovered some fantastic parallels to my own approach to education.  Here is a little about what I learned…

The introduction of Latin at an early age and the focus on other languages can be very beneficial to children who have language delays.

Brain research shows that there is an area of the brain in the back of the head that is only activated by learning and using a second language.  The introduction of Latin, Spanish, Sign Language, or another language can be so beneficial to children who struggle with language. First, it gives additional pathways between the two sides of the brain to help process language.  Second, it can be used to add “fun” to therapy, games, and other activities. Finally, learning vocabulary from Latin, Greek, German, or other Romance languages helps break down words and their meanings as you get into higher reading and writing levels.

Classical Education, at its truest, is about focusing on the thorough education of 1 or a few students.

When education first began, private tutors took on 1 or a few students to teach them all the things they knew.  It was about focusing on those few, not on the masses. This method allowed detailed, direct studies of material. This teaching model is so important for students who struggle.  One on one and small group settings are very desirable for children with attention, behavior, or learning challenges.

Memorization – a direct teaching method.

If you really want to memorize something, you read and study it over and over.  You use your eyes (visual), you say it out loud to yourself (auditory), and a lot of times, you move your body (kinesthetic).  It takes 20-40 times of doing something or experiencing something correctly to transfer that skill from short term to long term memory.  If you learn it wrong, it takes 200-400 times to correct the error. In special education, direct teaching is such an effective tool. Classical education is all about memorization at the lowest level and a great approach for many special needs students.  Simply Classical offers suggestions for supporting students who struggle with memorization by adding a visual cue, movement, and other tips.

Levels of support and prompting

Simply Classical is full of ideas of adding visual cues, movement, and other supports and prompts (hints) to support students with different disabilities.  Cheryl also stresses not moving forward until a concept is mastered, even if that means repeating a level using a different curriculum or different approach.  This is so important to give students that struggle additional practice, more time to learn the material, or to move at a slower pace.

Incorporating Therapy into Instruction

When you have a child with special needs, you often have therapy that needs to be incorporated into the school day, and homework from the therapy to follow up with.  These can be done using materials from your school day, in tandem with your schoolwork, or in place of different subjects. Find a therapist who supports your homeschooling efforts and works with you to achieve academic goals as well as the therapy goals.

Teaching to your child’s strengths

Cheryl Swope is very big on teaching to your child’s strengths and interests, especially as they mature. She explains that not every child may reach the upper levels of classical education in every subject.  However, children should be allowed to move forward in any areas they are strong in.

Getting Creative

Sometimes you have to get creative to fit everything in for school, doctors’ appointments, therapy, and life!  Cheryl offers advice for how she managed to juggle it all as her children grew and matured. She also offers other creative solutions for integrating subjects, schooling on the road, and other ideas.

Upper Levels of Classical Education

Some children may never reach the Logic or Rhetoric stages of the Trivium (Language), or in the Quadrivium (Math).  However, the skills gained in the Grammar stage in these areas can give a good foundation for any child to achieve as much as is possible.  She offers several reading lists for various ability levels for classic literature, as well as ideas for including elements of those higher levels of Classical Education in ways that are accessible to students functioning on lower levels.  She also includes her experiences with how Logic, Latin, and other elements of Classical Education positively shaped her children’s futures.

Simply Classical Curriculum and Teacher’s Guides

Cheryl Swope has been working diligently over the last few years to expand her Simply Classical book into a full curriculum specially designed for special needs.  While no curriculum is going to be one-size-fits-all, she has done an excellent job of putting together resources and daily lesson plans that are routine, detailed, and easy to follow.  Each level is 34 weeks, with an additional eight weeks for review and reinforcement. The checklist-style can easily be used in different ways to make it work best for your child. Some thoughts about how it might be easily modified:

  • Each day could easily be split up into multiple days to accommodate students who need more time to complete activities or tire quickly.  This method would expand the time to complete the material, but still effective for students who need this.
  • Specific subjects could be switched out for a different level if your child is ahead or behind in that particular subject
  • The morning routine is great for consistency.  It is a great guide to follow each day or to easily create a similar routine that fits your child’s needs.

Thank you, Cheryl Swope, for creating such a wonderful, loving book and curriculum to help any child receive a beautiful education.  The tools, tips, and resources in the book are wonderful and helpful no matter what approach to education you choose. You can easily read the book, and use some of the techniques and suggestions, or you can follow in Cheryl’s wise footsteps and utilize her system to guide you more thoroughly.  Simply Classical truly is Simply Amazing to help guide parents through their homeschooling journey.



Amy Vickrey holds a Masters of Science in Education, Specializing in Curriculum and Instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University-San Marcos.  Also, she spent 2 years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language and Generalist (early childhood through fourth). She is now part of the Struggling Learners Department of True North Homeschool Academy, and loves the discovery approach to learning. Teaching children how to learn will help them reach their goals and dreams.


Are you a follower of the classical method of education in your homeschool? Check out this review of the book Simply Classical by Cheryl Swoope. #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #ClassicalEducation #ClassicalHomeschool #Homeschooling


Making Art Happen in Your Classical Homeschool

(The following is a guest post from Penny Mayes, curriculum creator at Take TIme for Art.)

How do you integrate art into your classical homeschool?  For some of us the answer is not very often or in spurts and starts.  I know, it’s frustrating, and the truth is it shouldn’t be that hard.  But what’s a mom to do when you are trying to cover all the bases, give your child a strong classical education in the basics, and generally managing life?  Trying to teach art and art history much less integrate it into your classical unit studies is just not a priority.  But what if it should be a priority and what if there was an easier way?

A Priority?

First, should art be a priority in your classical homeschool?  And if so, why?  To answer that question let’s go to the Bible to visit a couple of artists.  The first artist is of course, God.  And to see God’s handiwork, we go to the place where He creates His masterpiece.  We go to Genesis.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2.

When we talk about art we need to start at the beginning and recognize that the source of all creativity comes from God.  He is the Master Designer and the Creator of our world and our being.  We can’t even begin to compete with God, but we can learn from Him as we study His creation and his beauty.


And that is exactly what happened with our second artist. When God designed His dwelling place among the Israelites in the desert, He chose a special guy to build it.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” Exodus 31: 1-5.

Never imagine that God doesn’t have a plan for you.  He really does cause everything to work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes. And that is just what happened in the life of a former slave who used to work for Pharaoh’s glory, but now worked for God’ glory.

Created to Be Creators

The truth is, we are all created in God’s image and made to be creators, just as Bezalel was a creator.  We all have this need to make, to create, to improve, and to subdue our world.  It is built into us as image bears of God.  And we need to figure out how to do it for God’s glory.  That is what training your child in classical integrated arts education is all about.

Integrate Art with History

But how do you do this?  In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is to integrate art with your history curriculum.  By studying the art history of a time period you get to put a picture and a face on a culture of people.  And you get to contrast the beliefs of that people group with Biblical truth. Art always reflects the beliefs of a culture.  By looking at their art, you can bring in Biblical truth and a Christian worldview.

Then based on what you’ve studied, hands-on projects in art should follow. When you study Ancient Egypt, the tomb art, the stories, and the history, you should make something fantastic like an Egyptian mummy mask, a sculpture of a piece of tomb art, or a tomb painting.  And you can talk about how when we create we do it for God’s glory.  Seem a bit overwhelming?  Let me make it even easier.

Let Me Help you do the Heavy Lifting

At Take Time for Art we integrate history with art history through our streaming video curriculum. We do it with a Christian worldview, and encourage each of our students to create for God’s glory.  And we have wonderful hands-on projects taught step-by-step in our videos.  Check us out at  We even have wonderful art materials packs that make your life even easier.  Check out our videos on Vimeo.

Making art happen in your classical homeschool doesn’t have to be that hard.  Let us help you do easily and successfully.  And let us help you bring a lot of fun into your homeschool too!

(Are you interested in an amazing classical education for your homeschool student?  Then be sure to check out our classical courses at True North Homeschool Academy.)

Penny Mayes is a veteran homeschool mom of 20 years and art teacher.  She creates integrated curriculum for homeschoolers at Take Time for Art.  Her goal is to make art easy to use, fun, and integrated with your history unit studies.  And she teaches from a Christian worldview.  For more information, visit her at

Are you neglecting to add art into your classical homeschool? Sometimes as busy homeschool moms, we often overlook art. Let's face it, many times it's simply one more thing in our already overwhelming day. However, art doesn't have to be overwhelming. Check out this guest post for some great ideas on why, and how, you make art happen in your classical homeschool. #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #Art #ClassicalHomeschool #Homeschooling