Our academic program, based in the classical Christian method, develops students’ character, depth of intellect, reasoning, and speaking. We encourage you to spend time researching our method, but there are a few obvious differences which we list here:
Kindergarten and 1st grade:
These “pre-grammar” years are focused on developing an excellent foundation in reading, writing, and math.
Our goal is to have students reading children’s classics (rather than graded readers common in other schools) and writing with confidence by 2nd grade. We use a phonics program and a grammar program that build these core skills at an advanced rate.
Students joining us during these grades are generally able to catch up within a few weeks. They do need to have a foundation in letters and numbers, but most students find our structure and educational system enjoyable after only a few months.
2nd through 4th grade:
In 2nd through 4th grade, our students hone their core skills of reading, writing, and math while they learn Latin, science, literature, geography, and history.
Our goal during these years is to develop independent study skills and self-learning by the time the student begins the 5th grade.
We deeply study specific areas of science and history since students in these years find a detailed depth of knowledge in an area more easily grasped and understood than high-level abstractions.
- 2nd grade studies ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.
- 3rd grade studies ancient Greece and Rome.
- 4th grade studies medieval Europe.
Students who join us during these years find that they are able to catch up within a few months. Of course, we make provisions to “form” back students for Latin and Math since these are often deficient areas for students who transfer in.
5th and 6th grade:
Once students have developed an independence and love of learning, it’s time to immerse them further into the wonder of learning. During these years, students engage literature and history with a sense of excitement and personal understanding not often present in earlier years. They begin to understand the deeper and more complex way of enjoying literature and writing creatively.
- Our goal during these years is to have students discover what more than 6,000 years of human history and literature, art and culture, science and theology can provide in the way of exploration.
- Students perform a Shakespeare play, read mythological literature, perform multiple public performances, enjoy the art of the Renaissance, and begin to write creatively. Of course, Latin is present in both years.
- 5th grade emphasizes Renaissance art, music, history, and beauty.
- 6th grade studies American history, culture, and literature.
Students who join us during these years need to be strong readers. They will need to catch up in math since we typically run at least a year ahead of other area schools. We can accommodate their Latin deficiency through one-on-one tutoring, but they will have to work to catch up. By November of their first year, they are normally well up to speed.
7th and 8th grade:
The core of our “logic phase,” we begin to transition students in these grades to think for themselves. As Dorothy Sayers said, adolescents love to argue, so teach them to argue well!
Our Letters track begins in the 7th grade as students immerse themselves into worldviews. History, literature, philosophy, theology, and art are taught as an integrated whole, with scripture as the revelation of God’s truth. These classes are taught almost entirely from original source documents, not textbooks. We teach students to develop their own understanding of history from those who lived at the time, rather than depending on the skew of a textbook.
- 7th grade focuses on the Greek and Roman era. They also learn the core questions of worldview, such as what is the nature of God, how do we know things, and who are we?
- 7th grade science is a general physical science. Its math is an advanced arithmetic, logic, and pre-algebra combination. Pre-algebra is formally taught in 6th grade.
- 8th grade has a formal logic course where students learn the fundamental base skills that will be used in persuasive rhetoric in high-school.
- 8th grade Letters is focused on the Medieval time period.
- Latin in the 8th grade is based on a college track so that by the 10th grade, they can complete the equivalent of 2 years of college Latin.
Students often transfer in during these years, particularly if they find other schools not to be challenging enough. We also sometimes enroll home-school families in the 7th grade because the classroom environment becomes more important for interactive discussion and logic. Transfer students need to be advanced in math, reading and writing. We accommodate students in Latin through tutoring.
As students enter our Rhetoric phase, we emphasize synthesis and public defense– orally and in writing. Synthesis is the ability to use logic, literary device, the Great Ideas, and connections with history, philosophy, and theology to make sense of our world. In short, it’s thinking. This is our most unique, and we think the most important part, of a student’s education. Here, they truly break the habit of “listen and regurgitate on a test.” Classical education is the only form that places this emphasis on learning. Students also learn eloquence in speaking and using logic to condense and refine arguments.
- 9th grade Letters focuses on US history and literature in the modern era (1600 to present).
- 10th grade Letters emphasizes Greek and Roman thought, philosophy, and early Christian theology.
- 11th grade Letters emphasizes the Medieval mind, its worldview, and the ideas that brought about Western civilization.
- 12th grade Letters brings a focus to the Modern world (mostly Western), its ideas and thought.
- Advanced science is offered in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
- Latin and/or Greek are required.
- Students also study Rhetoric for three years, culminating in a senior thesis defense on theology. This defense is generally about 25 pages long and takes an hour to defend before an examining board.
We accept transfer students in 9th and 10th grades. Students who wish to graduate from The Ambrose School must enter the high school prior to the beginning of their 11th grade year. We do accept later transfers on a class-by-class basis, without graduating them. Exceptions to these rules are extended to transfer students from other classical Christian schools.