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Classical Christian Education with Covenant Home Curriculum

An Interview with Rev. Dale Dykema -- 1999

Martha Robinson: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Rev. Dykema: I am a Presbyterian Churches of America minister and administrator of Covenant Home Curriculum. We began our curriculum work in the early 1980s while we had a Christian school in suburban Milwaukee, WI. Since that time we have gone full time into homeschooling work. I still have my church as well.

Martha Robinson: What is a Classical Christian Education? What is the goal in this teaching method? How does it differ from Classical Education?

Rev. Dykema:
(1) We put a strong emphasis on English, reading, composition, note taking, outlining, notebook keeping, reading comprehension, etc.
(2) We use many selections of the best in classical literature (only a few of Greek classics) because of language, grammar, style, content. I have written a series of readers' guides to draw out world view and author's technique, etc.
(3) In all of this we teach a reformed Christian world view, pointing to the sovereignty of God and His holy purposes. We follow the pattern of the trivium as much as possible.

Martha Robinson: What makes Covenant Home Curriculum Classical?

Rev. Dykema: The above plus our offering of Latin on 3 levels and teaching of the basics, emphasis on phonics, etc.

Martha Robinson: Must the parents be highly educated to implement a Classical Christian Education?

Rev. Dykema: Not necessarily, since that is our job to provide well designed guides for parents and students to point them to the principles. Our enrolled parents often comment about how much they learn along with their children.

Martha Robinson: Classical Education is becoming much more popular with the publication of new books on the subject. Some parents have become frightened with the amount of work required. Does it have to be this difficult?

Rev. Dykema: It is harder than many programs, but with our prepared test sets and keys, our readers' guides, blueprints, and day-by-day planners it is more attainable.

Martha Robinson: How many hours per day should a child be doing schoolwork to learn what is needed? Is your complete curriculum suitable for novices?

Rev. Dykema: Our estimate is usually 8:30 until noon in grades K-4th. Between one and three more hours may be required for students in grades higher. It depends a lot on the student. Most of our families become increasingly efficient once they get accustomed to the system.

Martha Robinson: Do homeschooling veterans find it flexible?

Rev. Dykema: Yes, yes. We always work closely with our families. Our grade auditors are especially conscious of this need.

Martha Robinson: How does your program work for families with several children? Can the homeschooling mom teach some subjects together?

Rev. Dykema: Yes, we often suggest this tactic.

Martha Robinson: Is it possible for a child to begin doing Classical education after years with other methods or in public or private school? What would you recommend in this situation?

Rev. Dykema: It is always possible. Even parents learn later in life.

Martha Robinson: How does Latin or foreign language fit in with Christian studies? Why should you teach a language and which one should you choose? What is the appropriate age to start language studies?

Rev. Dykema: We recommend Latin as a foundational language and one that teaches a beautiful pattern. It also opens up a world of vocabulary to the student and helps with spelling. The age for Latin studies is 3rd grade or above.

Martha Robinson: How can the homeschooling parent make sure their child has everything needed at the high school level when the parent's education was not all that good?

Rev. Dykema: By following a complete and balanced curriculum such as CHC.

Martha Robinson: Do you award high school credits and a diploma?

Rev. Dykema: Yes and we provide our students with sharp and well-balanced transcripts for college.

Martha Robinson: What particular doctrine, if any, does your curriculum support?

Rev. Dykema: We would work from the perspective of reformational doctrine such as is set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Martha Robinson: What products do you offer for families who are not looking for a complete curriculum?

Rev. Dykema: We offer many modules of all kinds, please see our web site for a list.

Martha Robinson: Recently you introduced your Readers' Guides including study questions for classical books. Why should our children study literature from the past?

Rev. Dykema: Reading good literature from the past is beneficial because of classic themes that deal with eternal issues of life, extensive use of scriptural examples, excellent language, grammar, etc. Being properly educated means being familiar with a large portion of these accomplished authors.

Martha Robinson: What is the goal of your Readers' Guides?

Rev. Dykema: Covenant Home Reader's Guides help parents show their children what to watch for in a book: author's technique, word meaning, world view, character development, etc. The guides may be used before reading in order to prompt the student, or may be used following the assignment with a more accomplished reader.

The guides help parents who may not have read the particular book themselves, giving them a "leg up" on their child. A further purpose is to draw attention to how the book's message and world view relates to the word of God.

Martha Robinson: For what age range are these appropriate? Does that vary by book?

Rev. Dykema: Our guides are for parents to help their children learn to read and analyze accurately a work of literature. They are appropriate for about 5th or 6th grade and up.

Martha Robinson: What purpose did you have in mind when you wrote the Art Masters program?

Rev. Dykema: Art Masters was written to be an idea course in watching for art forms in the creation, shapes and forms that make a standard of beauty for human art to follow. There are ideas about such things as architecture and other mediums as well. Artistic effort, aesthetics always reflects our view of our Creator and Savior. This program gives direction in this regard.

Martha Robinson: How long will it take to complete Art Masters?

Rev. Dykema: Some of our families do it in a semester. Others, who add in ideas or are prompted to add in may take a year or more.

Martha Robinson: Do you offer advice to families considering homeschooling or Classical Christian Education? How can interested parents get in touch with you?

Rev. Dykema: Our web site has many articles, our 800 number (1-800-578-2421) reaches live, Christian advisors and we try to answer our daily mail.

Many thanks to Reverend Dykema for sharing his thoughts with us here at HomeschoolChristian.com!

Related HomeschoolChristian.com Resources

Review of Art Masters
HomeschoolChristian.com's Art Resources Section
HomeschoolChristian.com's Classical and Charlotte Mason Resources Section