Core Phase of Childhood Education: Age 0-8, and Always Thereafter

Updated: Feb 15, 2018

As described in my previous post, there are three phases of learning in childhood and the early teen years and the prevalent conveyor belt model of schooling can hinder the advancement through these phases. The three phases (as defined in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning) are:

  • Core Phase, which focuses on character development and typically lasts from age 0 to 8 (or 9 in boys), 

  • Love of Learning Phase, which focuses on giving the child the opportunity to fall in love with learning and typically lasts from age 8 to 12 (or 13 in boys), and 

  • Scholar Phase, which focuses on the child studying a wide range of topics with increasing ability and commitment, and typically lasts from age 12 to 16 (or 17 in boys).

In this post, I will discuss Core Phase in more detail.

The Foundation For All Other Phases

Core Phase is the foundation upon which all the other phases are built. In Core Phase, the "curriculum" is essentially the development of good character. This is accomplished through:

  • focusing on and improving family relationships, so that children feel loved and supported as individuals and know that their parents are "on their side",

  • participating in family work and responsibilities, wherein children learn how to be responsible and the inherent value of a job well-done,

  • being immersed in a home culture that demonstrates what it means to have good character, and

  • exposure to great books, music, and art in an environment where learning is celebrated and unpressured.

Academics in Core Phase

Academic pursuits are to be freely explored and enjoyed in Core Phase, without any pressure. This sets the stage for the following phase of learning, which is Love of Learning. Core Phase does not include forcing children to accomplish academic tasks such as reading, writing, and math.

To readers who may feel panicked or uneasy at the idea of kids "falling behind" if they are not forced to do schoolwork at a young age, I recommend reading these articles:

Examples of Core Phase Activities

To help readers get a better idea of what Core Phase looks like in practice, below are some examples of Core Phase activities.

Focusing on family relationships:

Character development:

  • Being surrounded by people, and specifically parents, who demonstrate good character and an earnest desire to continually improve themselves

  • Giving the child lots of unstructured play time, wherein they have the opportunity to explore and understand who they are as well as the world around them

  • Exposure to books, audio books, and media that propagate good ideals and examples of good character

  • Discussing virtues while reading aloud books, such as when characters make poor choices or have tough decisions to make

Family work and responsibilities:

  • Working alongside each other to accomplish tasks such as dinner preparation, kitchen cleanup, and yard care

  • Teaching age-appropriate responsibilities such as getting dressed, feeding pets, and brushing teeth

  • Doing service as a family, such as helping an elderly neighbor, providing clothing to a homeless shelter, and helping at an animal rescue organization