Classical Writing Placement

Guidelines for Placing Students in Classical Writing

Typical Course of Study Intermediate Books
Foundational Books Advanced Books
Starting Classical Writing with Older Students

Because of its sequential nature, students need to cover the levels of the Progymnasmata in order. The table below shows the typical course of study for students who start this curriculum around 3rd grade. "Grade levels" do not always fit individual students, but they may be helpful in giving a feel for where to place a student.

If your beginning Classical Writing student is older than 3rd grade, do not worry!  We have designed the foundational levels to be flexible enough to accommodate varying grade and skill levels, and we offer many helps and much advice below and on our Message Boards to help you properly place your student in Classical Writing.

Beginning Aesop students should be spelling comfortably at a 2nd grade level and reading beginning chapter books independently. Primer is the perfect preparation for younger students who have basic spelling and phonics skills, but who are not yet ready to begin Aesop.


Typical Course of Study for Classical Writing
 Grade Level Basic Course Content Poetry/Fiction
2nd grade Primer Copywork, Narration, Nature Study, Picture Study read aloud often!
3rd & 4th grade Aesop Short Narratives read aloud often!
5th & 6th grade Homer Longer Narratives Poetry for Beginners
7th grade Diogenes: Maxim Expository Essays Intermediate Poetry
8th grade Diogenes: Chreia
9th grade Herodotus Argumentative Essays Advanced Poetry

10th grade Plutarch Descriptive Essays
11th & 12th grade Demosthenes Research Papers

Back to top

Foundational Books

Additional factors may play a role in when to begin writing instruction and how quickly to proceed through the Classical Writing series. Our course outline is structured so that you can easily adapt the Classical Writing methodology to the needs of your student, classroom, or homeschool.

The Progymnasmata is a sequential approach, with each level building on the skills learned in previous levels. No matter how old your students are when they start out in Classical Writing, they need to master the skills of each level before moving to the next level. For middle school students and older we offer an Older Beginners series to cover the foundational levels of Classical Writing in one school year or less.
Back to top

Starting With Students Older Than 3rd Grade

Student Level Placement
4th or 5th grade Begin in Aesop Student Workbook B, if they have had basic instruction in capitalization and punctuation, write in complete sentences, can accurately retell short narratives, and can identify basic parts of speech.
5th or 6th grade Begin in Homer Workbook A if they can accurately retell longer narrative and have mastered the grammar skills covered Aesop A bright 6th grade student may be able to cover all of Homer Workbooks A and B in one school year.
*7th grade & up Use Aesop and Homer for Older Beginners, covering the material in both books in one year.

Back to top

Intermediate Books

Students should be in 7th grade (around age 12-13) or up before beginning Diogenes: Maxim, Diogenes: Chreia, and Intermediate Poetry. These books move the student into serious analytical thinking about essays and literature, and will be difficult for younger students. The material in these books is on a level with many high school courses and could be counted as high school credits in composition, grammar, and literature.

*Online recorded tutorials are available for Maxim and for Chreia at Classical Writing Tutorials. Also, recorded tutorials at an accelerated pace are now available for Aesop & Homer and Maxim & Chreia. These courses are designed to help high school students complete the foundational and intermediate levels of Classical Writing before beginning our high school courses.

Back to top

Advanced Books

Herodotus (2 semesters), Plutarch (1 semester), and Demosthenes (2 semesters) are sequential high school level composition, grammar, and literature courses, although students can take Plutarch before Herodotus if necessary. Advanced Poetry, and Shakespeare are one semester high school literature electives. Advanced Poetry can be studied after your students complete Intermediate Poetry. Shakespeare should be done after your students complete Advanced Poetry and Plutarch.

*Online recorded tutorials are available for Herodotus at Classical Writing Tutorials.

More guidance about placement can be found in our FAQ and on our Message Boards. Please post your question, and we will answer you as quickly as possible. You may also get valuable help from those who are currently using Classical Writing and can answer you from in the trenches by subscribing to the Classical Writing email loop

Back to top

Home Purchase Return Policy Message Boards Classical Writing Blog About Us Contact Us