During the past few months, I have had the privilege of visiting several classical Christian schools around California. The experience of observing their classrooms had a profound impact personally as a teacher and as a mother. Here are what I consider the top three features of a classical Christian classroom:
Love. From my ten years of experience teaching in other schools, I had never before observed the love I witnessed after a few minutes in a classical Christian classroom. Having teachers who, over their passion for teaching, have a deep love for God and children, brings the classroom experience for students to a whole new level. The love shown through words of wisdom, kindness, respect, and empathy nurture the students' mind, heart, soul, and provide the ideal environment to thrive.
Excellence. Another significant feature I observed in the classrooms was the constant search for excellence. While working on a task, students were continuously encouraged to try their best. They were reminded who they were and how God created them to be. Through positive reinforcement, they were challenged to reach their highest potential, and teachers would find ways to motivate and instill a passion for continually improving. I was amazed by the beautiful handwriting and the fluent reading kindergartners were able to show. Truly impressive.
Efficiency. This one was one of my favorite features to observe. Classroom management plays a vital role in using time wisely and efficiently. During a school day, a notable amount of time can be wasted transitioning from one subject to another, from one place to the next and from a loud activity to a quiet one. I was impressed with how teachers were very intentional in using time effectively. They had songs and chants to help children transition. For example, when students were coming back from recess right before going into the class they would start singing a song and proceed to put their snack boxes away, hang up their jackets, and return to their desks. When the song was over, the kids were ready to start the lesson, and it had only taken a couple of minutes! Children love singing, and it can be a great tool to provide clear instructions and avoid distractions. I saw time utilized wisely by a teacher who had dedicated an area in the classroom with lots of challenging activities for those who finish their work before time is up. Students in a classical Christian classroom know they have no time to waste, so when they finish a task, they put their paper away and directly walk to the "wise corner" and grab an activity to work on and keep learning. For example, 1st graders had colorful manipulatives that would help with their math fluency and for grammar, they had domino games with sight words to practice spelling.
These school observations were eye-opening to me. A classical Christian classroom truly creates an environment where students get the necessary tools to thrive and achieve their highest potential while nurturing their mind, soul, heart, and body and developing in them a love for God and a passion for learning. I cannot wait to witness and experience this daily at Donum Dei Classical Academy.
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