Is All That Memory Work Really Necessary?


I appreciate your blog as well as your perspective-- it's helpful for us moms who are just beginning our homeschooling journey. (I have an 8 year-old girl, 6 & 4 year-old boys and a 1 year-old girl).  We have homeschooled since the beginning, and I read The Well Trained Mind when my oldest was a preschooler.  I've also read the Bluedorn's article 10 Things to Do with Your Child Before Age 10.  So, I definitely like a classical approach and we use history (Story of the World) as our spine, but I'm wondering about the subject of memory work.

 We learn entire Psalms and larger passages from other books of the Bible and some poetry (we've mostly done Stevenson or Rossetti).  We've also memorized the 12 Tribes, books of the Bible, parts of speech and are currently learning the 13 Colonies and the first 12 Presidents. In addition we learn traditional hymns and folk songs.  I have friends who are into Classical  Conversations--which is basically a memory program where they learn history sentences, some science, grammar and Latin.  I'm not wanting to criticize the program as it seems that many people love it, but I'm wondering if it is really necessary to do copious amounts of memory work in the early years?

 I hope this question makes sense.  I've been pondering it for awhile and wondering if I'm doing enough memory work.  I know my children don't remember all that we've learned even though I require some narration and expect them to pay attention.  I would appreciate some perspective from someone who has been through these  years and seen the other side.  Thanks.


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Hi Sara-

I think your memory work plan is great, but as Laurie Bluedorn says, "There are only so many hours in the day".  Make sure you're hitting the most important things for your family, and drop the rest. Personally, I couldn't care a lick if my kids are memorizing the pharoahs (for example), but I do think knowing the tribes of Israel and Judah is a handy thing for lifelong Bible knowledge and study.  If I had to choose between the two, the tribes would win every time.

 I have several friends involved in Classical Conversations, and it is an excellent program.  We might make that choice in the future, but it hasn't been the best option for this season of our life.  For now, however, while the memory work rests on me, I'm sticking with what I think is most important to each child in our home.

 And then there's that supremely annoying truth you wrote: "I know my children don't remember all that we've learned even though I require some narration and expect them to pay attention."  Some beginning homeschoolers might find this truth discouraging, but it is what it is.  I think this is where we ask God to have them keep to memory those things He wants them to have lifelong, and don't worry about what isn't retained.  Isn't it odd, the things we remember as adults?  I can tell you goofy phrases, particular Bible verses, lyrics to random songs, and all the colors in Joseph's coat from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, but I can't remember where I left my car keys.