Curriculum

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Trinity Lutheran School is blessed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in company with five other classical Lutheran schools in the Wyoming District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The following summary of the classical curriculum which we use at Trinity was developed by the administration of our sister school in Casper: Mt. Hope Lutheran School. It is featured here in a slightly modified form.


Early Childhood (Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten)

The philosophy of Trinity’s preschool and pre-Kindergarten stems from the belief that the home has the primary responsibility for the young child’s physical, social, and spiritual development. To assist parents with this responsibility, our Pre-S and Pre-K classes provide a structured environment in which the children learn and develop social skills.

The Pre-S and Pre-K curriculum is intended to guide the children in a progression of skills in the following areas: language, mathematical reasoning, number sense, orientation in time and space, music, visual arts, movement, and coordination. Daily activities include chapel, Spalding language arts program, Saxon Math, memorization, listening, and work habits.

Consequently, the Early Childhood programs provide an introduction and foundation for the classical education that children will receive at Trinity Lutheran School in Kindergarten through 8th grade.


Kindergarten-8th Grade

The classical curriculum of Trinity Lutheran School flows from our intentional philosophy of education, founded on timeless truths and rejecting errors and fads of modern educational philosophy. (Read more about this distinction below » Appendix: Classical Education Resources.)

Theology

WE BELIEVE that God’s Word should shape and inform all learning; therefore, the Bible is the heart of our curriculum, and chapel services are the heart of our daily routine (cf. Trinity Touchstones #9, “lex orandi, lex credendi).

WE REJECT the assertion that religion can simply be added on to make a curriculum Christian.

K-4th: A survey of the Old Testament and Gospels is completed in the lower grades. In addition, students memorize many Bible passages and Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

5th-8th: Biblical survey courses alternate with study of the Augsburg Confession, all of which leads to discussions of ethical and theological issues. By placing such issues in context, students are carried back to the historical roots of these controversies and forward to practical applications in our modern society. Subjects treated include infant baptism, the Lord’s Supper, evolution, non-Christian religions, marriage, abortion, and many others.

English

WE ASSERT that the ability to use and understand language effectively is the foundation of all education and that language, along with reason, distinguishes man from animals.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That inaccurate or mediocre writing and speech are sufficient as long as they “communicate”
  • That students should be expected to write original compositions without the practice of modeling from great writers
  • That the act of reading matters more than the content of the books children read

K-4th: The objective of our language arts program in the lower grades is that children would learn to speak precisely, spell accurately, write proficiently, and read fluently with comprehension. Romalda Spalding’s The Writing Road to Reading is the basis of K-2 language arts instruction. Starting in grade 3 students memorize and analyze English grammar using Memoria Press’s English Grammar Recitation. In grades 3 and 4 students rewrite fables and narratives using Memoria Press’s composition curriculum (Introduction to Composition), which interweaves with a rich historically-based literature program featuring Aesop’s fables, fairy tales, historical fiction, and age-appropriate versions of Greek, Roman, medieval, and Renaissance classics, as well as other timeless children’s books.

5th-8th: Accurate spelling and neat penmanship are expected from students at this level and are addressed as needed in the context of regular written work. Grammar continues to be reinforced through direct instruction and incorporation into writing. With Memoria Press’s Composition curriculum (Fable Stage; Narrative Stage; Chreia & Maxim Stage), students continue to practice rewriting fables and composing fictional narratives but also broaden their skills through the initial nonfiction exercises of the classical Progymnasmata writing curriculum: the eight ways of addressing a maxim or chreia (wise saying). Practice in nonfiction writing culminates in structured expository essays. Literature studies are closely incorporated with history. Homer, Chaucer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Dickens are a sampling of the writers encountered.

Mathematics

WE ASSERT:

  • That memorization of mathematical facts and confident computational skill are essential to progress in math.
  • That higher levels of abstract mathematics provide valuable training for the mind.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That knowledge of mathematical processes without a supply of memorized factual information is sufficient.
  • That young students must be able to articulate why each mathematical process works.
  • That all mathematical studies must have an immediate, practical application.

K-4th: Saxon Math provides students a solid foundation in the language and basic concepts of math through an incremental approach whereby students practice new concepts and then achieve mastery through continued application in subsequent lessons. (For more on why we use Saxon, see below: » Appendix: Classical Education Resources.

5th-8th: Saxon Math continues to provide a solid foundation leading to further studies in the abstract, logical disciplines of Algebra and Geometry.

History

WE ASSERT:

  • That history, broadly speaking, reveals the working of God throughout time.
  • That history gives students models of great men to admire.
  • That history furnishes a background for understanding all other disciplines.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That young children benefit more from “social studies” focusing on their own time and place than from study of the past.
  • That all cultures and people are equally worthy of our structured study.

K-4th: Focusing on Western Civilization, history studies follow a chronological survey: an overview timeline in first and second grades, followed by a three-year cycle of the Greco-Roman Period, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, and American History in the third and fourth grades.

5th-8th: A four-year cycle of courses— Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, American History—reviews and augments the factual history learned in the lower grades but also utilizes students’ blossoming capacity for critical thought. Students confront timeless questions:

  • Why have civilizations risen and fallen?
  • How have religion, philosophy, literature, geography, technology, and other factors affected civilizations?
  • What is our Christian response as heirs of this heritage?

At the end of each year students review with a comprehensive exam.

Geography

WE ASSERT:

  • That students should continually broaden their understanding of the world by memorizing the locations of geographical places
  • That geographical studies assist students in understanding both history and current events.

WE REJECT the assertion that memorization of geographical locations is too difficult for children and meaningless for them.

K-4th curriculum: A thorough study of the United States and a new world continent each year prepares students for a comprehensive review and examination in the upper grades.

5th-8th: While reviewing the names and places learned previously, students at this level concentrate on placing countries, continents, and other features in the larger context of the world, culminating with a comprehensive exam. Geographical knowledge is also frequently incorporated into historical studies and discussion of current events.

Science

WE ASSERT:

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That science is incompatible with religion.
  • That the scientific method alone is sufficient to reveal the truth about creation.
  • That elementary science instruction should favor the technological and so-called “applied sciences”

K-4th: Study of physical and life sciences proceeds according to general scope with emphasis placed on objects of more immediate experience: plants, animals, and the human body. Classes include ample demonstration and observation intended to incite wonder and instill knowledge of basic principles.

5th-8th: Students expand their scientific studies from the concrete to the more abstract, with a cycle of studies in biology, chemistry, physics, and geology & astronomy.

Latin

WE ASSERT:

  • That Latin trains the mind through rigorous thinking.
  • That Latin connects students with their Western and Christian cultural heritage.
  • That Latin assists students in broadening their knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary.
  • That Latin prepares students well for further language study.
  • That it is exciting for students to master the Latin language.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That Latin carries minimal benefit since it is a “dead” language lacking native speakers.
  • That Latin must be burdensome and of little interest to young students.

K-2: Basic vocabulary memorization begins in Kindergarten and is augmented with memorization and recitation of Latin sayings and prayers in first and second grade. Second-grade students receive more formal instruction using Memoria Press’s Latina Christiana curriculum.

3rd-8th: Latin is a core daily subject. Students are placed and progress according to proficiency, not age or grade-level per se. Students continue to build a vocabulary and foundation for further studies through memorization of weekly wordlists and grammatical chants. As they progress, they fortify their grammatical knowledge through extensive practice in declining, conjugating, and translating. Memoria Press’s Latin curriculum is used, with beginning students taking up First Form and progressing through Fourth Form.

Logic

WE ASSERT:

  • That reason is a gift from God which, along with language, distinguishes man from animals.
  • That well-trained reason is necessary for civic life and discourse.
  • That logic can properly be applied to all areas of study.
  • That the proper end of logic is the discovery of truth.
  • That logic and reason must remain servants of the Word of God.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That reason is opposed to Christianity.
  • That untrained “common sense” is sufficient for healthy civic discourse.
  • That reason should be applied over and above the Word of God.

7th-8th: Students take up a study of formal logic using Memoria Press’s Traditional Logic I, in which course they learn the elements of deductive reasoning. Moreover, students at this level are intentionally led to apply logical thinking in all academic areas.

Art

WE ASSERT:

  • That art is a particularly human gift and ability.
  • That art should help us to love truth, goodness, and beauty.
  • That proficiency in art requires explicit instruction with gradual building of skills.
  • That through the fine arts children develop observational skills and an appreciation for true masterpieces.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That children will enjoy art more or produce satisfying work if we merely direct them to “be creative.”
  • That all art is equally edifying and worthy of study.
  • That beauty in art is “in the eye of the beholder,” i.e. a subjective value.

K-4th: Students learn to create and appreciate art and to love beauty. Drawing lessons are the foundation of the art curriculum, providing students with frequent, gradual, explicit direction to build their skills. Additional art lessons build students’ knowledge of artistic terminology and enhance their aesthetic and motor skills. Art appreciation is taught in the context of great artists and their works.

5th-8th: Students deepen the skills learned previously. Sketching is incorporated into subject areas, and art lessons involve a variety of media and techniques. Appreciation of the fine arts is deepened through analysis of artistic works incorporated into history studies.

Music

WE ASSERT:

  • That music is a divine gift, next to theology in the praise of God.
  • That music is an aid to memorization.
  • That it is an essential aspect of life both within the Church and in the secular world.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That music is tangential to faith and learning.
  • That all types of music are equally edifying or appropriate in all situations.

TLS students have many opportunities to sing, hear, and appreciate quality music of various styles. Music classes emphasize choral singing, with the Western sacred music tradition providing a foundation for instruction. Vocal training is also incorporated into the classroom curriculum, and all musical instruction is recognized for its inherent beauty, its contribution to a well-trained mind, and its potential to serve the people of God. Such musical study develops students’ appreciation for the beauty of excellent musical compositions and leads them to aspire to the creation of such beauty in their own music. The upper and lower school scholae cantorum (choirs, lit. “schools of singers”) sing at school chapel services and special extra-curricular events throughout the year.

Physical Education

WE ASSERT:

  • That, according to the ancient ideal of “a sound mind in a sound body,” the truly educated person must learn to manage his life not only mentally and morally, but also physically.
  • That friendly competition against oneself and one’s peers builds determination and sportsmanship.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That the body is of little consequence.
  • That competition of any sort must necessarily be detrimental to children.

K-4th: Young students practice a variety of basic movement skills and begin to play group games and participate in competitive athletic events.
5th-8th: Students concentrate on developing personal fitness and putting their skills into the context of group and competitive games, continually gaining appreciation for the good of a well-trained body.

Library

WE ASSERT:

  • That reading is one of the most valuable activities for human beings to pursue in their leisure time.
  • That children should read for pleasure as well as academic advancement.

WE REJECT the following assertions:

  • That any reading is worthwhile regardless of content.
  • That all reading must be rigorous and challenging.

The purpose of the Ellwein Memorial Library is to support the school curriculum. Weekly library time teaches basic library skills, but more importantly encourages students to read literature which will enrich their understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness.


Appendix: Classical Education Resources

“What is classical education?” Many good essays attempt to provide an answer to this question. We think this one by Peter J. Leithart is a good place to start: “The New Classical Schooling”

For an answer to the question “What is classical Lutheran education?” we recommend this article from our accrediting organization, the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education (CCLE): “Classical Lutheran Education, Defined.”

Additional worthwhile websites, articles, and essays:

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