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The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,660 Ratings  ·  611 Reviews
This book will instruct you, step by step, on how to give your child an academically rigorous, comprehensive education from preschool through high school. Two veteran home educators outline the classical pattern of education—the trivium—which organizes learning around the maturing capacity of the child's mind: the elementary school "grammar stage," the middle school "logic ...more
Hardcover, Revised and Expanded Edition, 832 pages
Published April 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1999)
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The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise BauerDumbing Us Down by John Taylor GattoA Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMilleHow to Read a Book by Mortimer J. AdlerHow Children Learn by John Holt
Best Homeschooling Books
1st out of 182 books — 242 voters
The Book Whisperer by Donalyn MillerThe First Days Of School by Harry K. WongSavage Inequalities by Jonathan KozolPedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo FreireEducating Esmé by Esmé Raji Codell
books for teachers, educators
44th out of 475 books — 442 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 27, 2007 Karen rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life! No, really!

In 1999, my two boys started school (k and 1st grade) on the same day my daughter was born. We ran so crazy that whole school year that we decided we had to try homeschooling - just to see if life would be any simpler. Lo and behold, it was. And The Well-Trained Mind (aka WTM) was my guide to how to do it.

WTM covers the philosophy and practice of classical education in a homeschool setting. There are other resources on classical ed, but I've found this one t
Verrrry interesting.

* for: best for people who have already decided homeschooling is what they want to do and want established, classical curricula. Also for those who want resource references out the wazoo.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The book is written by a mother and daughter pair. The daughter is one of three homeschooled children, but no mention was made of the experiences and outcome of the other kids' educations, and it bothered me. The daughter is wildly successful by typical
May 13, 2008 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We've been using this book for "afterschooling" for our first-grader, but it's meant to be more for homeschooling. I love most of the ideas in this book and we have found the history lessons especially interesting and helpful. It's very nice to teach Mads a chronological history of the world that isn't U.S.-centered (I feel like I'm filling in the gaps of my own education). She also loves the poem memorization part of the language lessons. We've found this book to be a great resource and guide, ...more
Aug 20, 2007 Angela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Parents
The Well-Trained Mind follows the concepts found in A Thomas Jefferson Education, but provides a step-by-step "how-to" guide on how to set up a classical home school. I refer to this as my homeschool bible. What I have learned most from this book is that I don't have to alter my life to fit the outline described in the book, but I have altered the outline to fit and meet our individual needs and goals. I have used it as a guideline. It is a great resource for curriculum, etc.
Feb 24, 2012 Sanz rated it it was amazing
10 pages into The Well-Trained Mind, I knew I found what I was looking for. (I actually stopped reading, logged onto Amazon and purchased a brand new copy of the newest edition. I knew I was going to want to have this book forever!) I was surprised because I didn't originally think classical education was the way we would go. But it makes SO MUCH SENSE! Here's how Classical Education breaks down:

Grades: 1, 5, 9: Ancients: 5000 B.C.-A.D. 400, Biology, Classification and Human body

Grades: 2, 6, 1
Jan 30, 2008 Becca rated it really liked it
A thick, but quick to read book, especially since several sections do not apply to me at this time. Gives a comprehensive overview of the classical approach to home school. The author has a very thorough, but practical approach to home schooling. This book really gave me the vision of what can be accomplished in the home. It is also an excellent resource, full of lists of suppliers and other books. I especially appreciated the sections on how to make up a transcript for a home schooled child and ...more
Amber G.
Jun 10, 2008 Amber G. rated it it was amazing
Great book on classical homeschooling. It gives you a great guide on what to teach each year of homeschooling, but is also a bit ambitious. The author is a homeschool scholar raising geniuses. Even though I could never do all she does in a day, I loved the book for a guide, ideas, and how to keep on track. I would never get rid of the book even if I wasn't homeschooling. I like reading it for my own continued education.
Amy LaVange
Jan 24, 2008 Amy LaVange rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Parents with school aged kids
Recommended to Amy by: lawn_mama
Shelves: parenting
I truly believe this book to be a necessary read for anyone planning on taking an active role in their children's education - whether they are taught publicly, privately or in any sort of home environment. The curriculum is thorough and well thought, and the writing could motivate any parent to take a stronger role in teaching their child. Loved it!
Feb 15, 2014 Renée rated it it was ok
Shelves: education
From an Australian, non-religious perspective...

This is a guide for Neo-Classical Education rather than Classical, eg. the way the "stages" are divided to fit the western 12-year school model rather than applied concurrently in varying degrees as was once the case (and is better-reflected in Charlotte Mason's classical style). It is very rigorous in a fashion more-closely designed to compete with public/private school graduates, but using classical elements to achieve generally higher results (p
Jan 02, 2010 Shannon rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Organized Types who are considering homeschooling
Recommended to Shannon by: Allison Snyder
I'm not a big reader of non-fiction, so it's surprising that I'm starting the 2010 year with it. This book was recommended to me by a friend from high school who is homeschooling her two sons this year and enjoyed this book. It's the first book of this type that I've read and while I liked some of the principles and suggestions, a few things were off-putting.

First, I found the introduction a bit arrogant. Some of the authors' assertions about this method of schooling leading to smarter, brighte
Apr 06, 2010 Heather rated it it was amazing
I've been reading as many books and blogs about homeschooling as I can get my hands on, because in preparation for beginning this journey with my daughter this fall for her first grade year I want to have much of a grasp of my educational philosophy and goals as possible. This book was recommended to me early on in my "just thinking about it" stage by a friend who homeeducates her children, but because the book is well over 600 pages in length I had put it off until I've read other, shorter, boo ...more
Jan 25, 2009 Greg rated it liked it
This book is often called the Bible of classical homeschooling. Like the Bible, the book offers life-changing experiences for its followers. Many parents happily homeschool (or "afterschool") their kids based mainly on its contents. However, many of the items are best understood not as literal truth, but as metaphor. For example, the first grade reading list includes "Anything by or about Aristotle and Cicero". While that sentiment is noble, I challenge anyone to come up with books about (never ...more
Jan 01, 2011 Hadrian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education, nonfiction
A very instructive book that provided invaluable help with my self-education process. Very thorough and helpful, listing many good resources.
Bryan Stevenson
Jun 18, 2010 Bryan Stevenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Well-Trained Mind (TWTM) was exactly what we needed as we start our home schooling journey this year. We didn't even know where to start, and we found in the Bauer's, like-minded people who have a passion for knowledge. They outline the classical education model, and script numerous ways that home schooling families can take advantage of this time tested approach to learning. We will be making use of the general guidelines provided in TWTM as we teach our children at home, although we will b ...more
Why have I resisted this method of Classical Homeschooling for so long? I've read about this method online, have read snippets of the book in the past, and have even incorporated a few bits and pieces of the Well-Trained Mind philosophy (and products) into our homeschool. But I've never identified myself as a classical homeschooler. I've resisted the method for one reason or another.
Not any more.
Today alone I have read through the section on the grammar stage twice (as well as large chunks of
Jan 28, 2009 Danielle rated it it was amazing
This is a superb and complete educational program to follow as a homeschooling parent or as a parent who wishes to supplement their children's public school education. The program however is very intense and actually requires more academic time than public school (unusual for most homeschool programs). There is also very little focus on the joy of learning, and truly is focused on "training" young minds. If you are looking to educate at home so that your children have a superior education, this ...more
David Withun
Jun 10, 2012 David Withun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, education
Every parent who cares about their child needs to read this book. That's not an overstatement; that is the honest truth. Classical Education, especially at home, is the very best education that a parent can give their child, teaching them to grow into logical, reasonable, intellectual, fulfilled, and happy adults, while exposing them to the wonders of God's creation and the marvels that man has created over the past thousands of years. And this book is the standard introduction to just how to do ...more
If you are just starting out homeschooling or are considering it, then this book is a great resource. It lists out everything your child needs to know from first grade through high school. There is a bias in the book, as the author has written many other educational material, these obviously are the first recommended; however, others options are usually given as well. The book is geared toward parents who will be homeschooling from the beginning of their child's education and while there is a sm ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
First off, I don't plan on homeschooling my kids because I don't have the patience, organizational skills, patience, discipline, or patience to do it. But when I saw this book at the library while looking for ways to teach my rising Kind. and 1st grader during the summer, I was intrigued so I checked it out. This was my first exposure to the theory of classical education and it really makes sense. I like that it's reading and literature centered and that history is taught from ancient to modern ...more
Nov 15, 2008 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all parents
I would recommend this book to every parent, whether they plan to home school or not. Since most parents I know did not receive a classical education, they don't know how to give one to their children. This book is over the top in a lot of ways and can be intimidating, but it gives parents the knowledge of what a classical education entails, and gives options and lists of recommended resources. I also love The Well-Educated Mind, and really like Susan Wise Bauer (Susan and her mother Jessie, wro ...more
Jun 29, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
A great resource for wrapping my mind around the why's and how's of homeschooling. Lots of my questions were answered, and I feel like I have a clearer picture of the overall trajectory of homeschooling. Much of what is recommended as far as curriculum reminds me of Belhaven's Worldview program. I should purchase this book for the very helpful bibliography/book lists it includes.
Jul 15, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, but was intimidated by it's thickness. When I finally opened it, I was thrilled to discover that though it does include some wonderful philosophy, it's more of a guide for each age level. So, I was able to skip huge parts of it (i.e. middle and high school), and still felt I came away with great insights and direction.
Megan Larson
Aug 04, 2009 Megan Larson rated it really liked it
This book lit my fire for giving my kids a classical home school education. It explains the benefits of the classical method (which are many!), as well as how it breaks down, and then thoroughly explains how each subject will look at each level, and gives bibliographies of all the best curricula, texts, and supplements, with plenty of choices and the benefits of each. I have already begun to collect a lot of the literature and some of the early curricula it suggests, since my kids are still in p ...more
Jacinta Read
Jul 16, 2015 Jacinta Read rated it really liked it
So glad I decided to buy this. I have been exploring the option of HS and disciplined myself to read up on philosophies and methods before getting to the practicalities. After a month of doing that I was really eager to paint a picture of what life would look like day to day, week to week etc and this book met that need perfectly. I had thought I'd need to do a full boxed curriculum for the first year to get in the swing of HS, but now I feel very confident that I don't need to do that, and the ...more
A Great Book Study
Dec 28, 2014 A Great Book Study rated it it was amazing
Changed the way I look at education.
May 10, 2012 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-top-20
I just love this book. I read it over and over. It is like a bible for homeschooling. All of our old favorite text books, philosophies, and methods are to be found recommended in this great resource, plus so much more that is new to me and WONDERFUL! I am getting ready for the coming school year with much excitement. I only wish some of my siblings were ready to delve into this great book with me; but alas, with children a younger than mine, they have a few more years until they will need such a ...more
Mar 06, 2009 Rebecca rated it liked it
I was disappointed that the author(s) chose to focus on how wonderful she/daughter turned out, how brillant/successful she became and seemed to attribute it all to homeschooling. Yet, they don't talk about the experiences the brother had at homeschool. I would have liked to have read about his experiences as well. Still, if you're considering homeschool, or wanting to supplement, they have a very nice outline, ideas, suggestions on how to do it.
Jun 26, 2015 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Last summer, The Latin-Centered Curriculum turned my head. I occasionally glance towards Charlotte Mason. But The Well-Trained Mind is my True North. I did a thorough re-read of the lower and middle grades, taking many notes, and skimmed over the high school years, really for the first time. (It's getting closer.) I'm so thankful for SWB and her sensible, practical advice (in this book and elsewhere).
Apr 30, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Homeschooling parents
Since I started homeschooling my middle school daughter, I have read numerous books, websites, blogs, and articles on how to choose a curriculum. This book was one of the best guides in a well-rounded education. I admit that I skipped the elementary section, because that no longer applies to my daughter. I only skimmed the high school section, because I will check this book out from the library again next year to guide our choices in my daughter's education. The section in the back about how to ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Kai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homeschool
I'm less than 30 pages in, so I might not be qualified to leave a review yet, but I am literally shaking with excitement. I often refrain from writing and marking in my books because I might eventually want to sell them, but not with this one. It's going to be hard to put it down, and will be a great resource as we embark and travel along on our homeschool journey.
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From the author's website:

Susan’s newest book for Norton, The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, was published in May 2015. The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople (2013), is the third in a multi-volume series providing a narrative world history; the first volume, The History
More about Susan Wise Bauer...

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