Adding a 5th-8th Grade Classroom in Fall 2016
Beginning in the 2016–2017 school year, we have an upper-grades classroom for 5th to 8th grade. This room is also limited to a class size of 15 students. Like in the lower-grades classroom, having multiple grades learning side-by-side is an excellent application of the classical model of education, allowing for students to learn either ahead or behind their nominal grade level in each subject. Advanced 5th graders, for example, may learn with a higher grade level in math, and all students new to a classical school may learn our composition exercises together. Older students are expected to model good academic discipline for their younger peers, and younger students learn to be responsible for their own assignments by the example of the older students.
Subjects include the standard basics of reading, English grammar, and math. Students are expected to read level-appropriate library books on an ongoing basis. Grammar lessons supplement classical composition exercises that can progress into high school for fluent writing and rhetoric. Math transitions through these grades from advanced arithmetic into the first year of algebra. Geometry is integrated throughout the instruction.
In addition to the basic subjects, Columbia includes a historical approach to other subjects. Bible history integrates with world history and literature on the world map and the timeline, where dates, facts, places are coordinated around the classroom. Students memorize a basic sequence of historic events that provides a framework for adding new items. We approach history in four broad eras, cycling through them every four years. The lower-grades classroom does the same, so that students who have been with CLS from the beginning will already be familiar with the general times we cover. Meanwhile, those entering the upper-grades classroom for the first time will still be exposed to them.
Students are encouraged to learn to play and sing music. This is an application of math, science, and even the Christian faith. It enriches a student’s personal life with art and the development of practical skill. Just as cursive handwriting encourages creativity and care in writing, so the study and performance of music enhances and adorns a student’s academic development with beauty. There is occasional time for general musical instruction during the school day, and the availability of private lessons afterward. Columbia has been blessed with a connection to The Dalles Christian Homeschool Band, which allows our students to participate. They hold concerts twice annually, and our students are all expected to sing in a chorus at minimum, but may also participate in other ways. Occasionally, Columbia students will also sing during the church services at Bethany Lutheran Church.
Upper-grade students participate in the 1-mile walk/jog with the younger students, as well as daily chapel. Parents are encouraged to volunteer to help sometime during the school year with P.E., which meets weekly.