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The Ultimate Guide to Science in the Classical Education Model

April 17, 2017 4 min read

Elemental Science began with me writing a classical science program for our daughter. I had fallen in love with the idea of a classical education but wasn't so enamored with the science options before me.

Over the last ten years, I have written and shared a few things about science in classical education. I figured it was about time for us to create an ultimate guide so that you could find all those tips in one place!

Here's what we'll cover in this post - you can click the links to go directly to that section if you would like to do so!

Without further ado, let's dive in!

The Ultimate Guide to Science in the Classical Education Model

Wondering what science in the classical education model should look like? This ultimate guide holds the answers you need.

The basics of classical education

Classical education, in a nutshell, is an educational model that focuses on teaching the students to think critically as well as training them to be familiar with how to learn.

Classical education does not believe that you will be able to cover everything in the 12+ years the students are in school.  Rather, it covers the highlights and provides the students 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 at the moment. The most notable are:

They all teach that there are stages, or cycles, of learning that every student goes through in his or her educational journey.

  • The student begins with the grammar stage, which we know as the elementary years.
  • Then he or she progresses into the logic, or dialectic stage, which typically happens around the middle school years.
  • Finally, the student finishes with the rhetoric stage, otherwise known as the high school years.

In each stage, you are teaching to the student’s strengths and working on building the skills that will become assets in the next stage.

You can learn more about classical education from the following books:

If you find classical education a bit later in your homeschooling journey, here are a few tips to help you decide what to do if you find classical education mid-cycle.

The basics of teaching science at home

Now that we understand what classical education is, let's look at how science should be taught.

There are three keys to teaching science:

  1. Performing Hands-on Scientific Tests
  2. Gathering Information
  3. Keeping a Record

These three pieces need to be represented in each week of your plan. They work together to create a solid science curriculum.

  • Too much focus on the hands-on will leave the students lacking in the core knowledge that they need to know.
  • Too much focus on the facts will lead to the students to not knowing how to apply those principles to real life. 
  • Too much writing and the students will begin to despise science.

On top of that, a solid plan for science will start early and build upon itself throughout the years. We all recognize that the body of scientific knowledge can not be taught in the span of four years and many of the basic concepts of science can be learned at a young age.

You can learn more about teaching science at home from the following books we have written:

What does science in the classical education model look like

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 basic information.
  • In the logic stage, you are building on the foundation by asking why things are the way they are. in the rhetoric stage you are analyzing what you know and learning how to apply it to what you don’t know.
  • 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.

Then you rinse and repeat, digging deeper into each discipline as you progress through the stages.

For a more detailed look at what science in the classical education model looks like, check out the following series:

For a more personal glimpse, check out the following:

You can also listen to the following podcasts to about classical science:

Resources to help you teach classical science

The classical student will not follow the traditional model, but rest assured, he or she will be well prepared to handle the rigors college-level science when that time arrives.

We provide easy-to-use plans for classical science, which have earned a top recommendation from the authors of The Well-Trained Mind. You can learn about our programs by clicking on the links:

Grammar Stage

Logic Stage

Rhetoric Stage (High School)

4 Responses

Paige Hudson
Paige Hudson

May 05, 2017

You’re welcome, Sara!


May 05, 2017

Thank you, Paige!

Paige Hudson
Paige Hudson

May 05, 2017


It is possible to do a logic stage program with a 3rd and 5th graders, as long as you simplify the writing expectations for your younger one. There is a chart in the back of the teacher guide that suggests an alternative spine for younger tag-along students. That said, our logic stage series is designed to foster independence, so it is not as difficult as you would think to use two of the Classic Series programs.

As for switching to the Sassafras Series, that is certainly an option, especially if you want to change things up a bit. Your oldest is at the top of the age range, but it could be a good solution for the next two years until your youngest is ready for the logic stage.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.



May 04, 2017

I am doing one science topic with both of my kids (2 yrs apart in age). These past few years it has been quite easy simplifying the lessons for my son, since they were both in the Grammar Stage. But next year my daughter will be beginning 5th grade and I’m wondering if the Logic Stage Biology curriculum will be too much for him, even if I simplified it for him. Do you have any thoughts on how the Biology for the Logic Stage could work for both a 3rd and 5th grader? Or should I just scratch trying to follow a classical method for science, until he’s older and find something totally different, like maybe your Sassafrass. Any insight you can share would be greatly appreciated.

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