It's time to delve into our experiences with Classical Conversations.
I can sum it up very easily: Why did I wait so long to make this decision?
My children, however, also love to take off on interest led tangents and at times I've almost considered us almost completely Delight Directed learners.
This year I have two children in Classical Conversations - one in Foundations, and another in Challenge A. It's been a wonderful first 6 weeks of school, and I'm ready to blog about the reason why.
*This post contains affiliate links.
I love these words from Leigh Bortins (the founder of CC):
“Families are designed to nurture the minds, wills, and emotions of its members so that the barriers created by fear of the unknown can be replaced by the confidence that comes from knowing you are loved whether you succeed or fail.”
Why Classical Conversations?
It took my husband and I a full year to make the decision to enroll our children in CC. I think my husband knew all along it would be a good fit, but I wanted to make sure we could retain some of our "old" ways of schooling.
Three big reasons we joined Classical Conversations:
- Accountability and camaraderie for myself and my oldest (7th grade)
- Quality material with an emphasis on memorization
- "To Know God and Make Him Known" - the motto of Classical Conversations
Last year I was getting TIRED... tired of doing so much homeschool planning and tired of doing so much legwork.
I know - homeschool moms are supposed to be super heroes, right? I just couldn't keep up the pace of our interest led lifestyle and needed HELP.
Help came in the form of Classical Conversations.
Actually, I need to correct that. Help came in the form of my dear friend, Kim. She nudged me ever so gently towards CC. She sat with me one afternoon at the park and brought her curriculum guide and timeline cards. So Kim, THANK YOU!
I also believe that life (and our homeschool) was just CHANGING. Change is good, but it is HARD.
Accountability and Camaraderie in Classical Conversations
As my daughter got into the middle grades I knew we BOTH needed more accountability. There are certain things she NEEDS to know in order to be accepted into college. There are academic requirements to be met and a transcript to be made.
The Challenge program keeps us on track and HIGHLY challenged.
Anna's class consists of 8 children and 1 tutor. They meet each Tuesday from 8:30-3:30.
There is a lot to be said for positive peer pressure. These kids are all bright and inquisitive. When I've sat in on some discussions I've been so impressed with the level of discourse.
Anna also has a list of assignments to complete each week. The goal of the this Challenge A year is to help the children learn to manage their time, and I can see this happening little by little. We have had some interesting discussions about time management, but I think this is natural for this age.
I've heard from other parents and especially from our tutor:
"Let them fail. Failure is the best lesson."
Oh, that's hard for me to do, but I'm learning that this year, too.
I'm very grateful that my kids have a safe place to fail. I cannot imagine what life would look like in a public middle school right now.
I also love that my husband can be involved in this process. He's started to review her work with her on Sunday afternoons to make sure she has met the expectations for the week and review her flash cards, listen to her presentations, etc...
Anna and I were butting heads over schoolwork last year, and being in the Challenge program has helped greatly. To know that there are other children doing this same work and to get together with them once a week has helped my social daughter in so many ways.
At first I felt like I was almost "giving up" on this pure form of homeschool that I had in my mind, but now I see that God led us to something that is a good fit for my daughter at this point in time.
For my son, I love the schedule that Classical Conversations provides in the Foundations guide. The weekly memory work keeps us on track.
I can still be very creative in our at home work. We are in Cycle 2 now, and a simple internet search yields supplemental books, resources, experiments, and so much more for at home enrichment.
Our local community director assured us at our orientation that if you do NOTHING ELSE but a daily review of memory work and a solid math and reading program your child will get what they need. To be honest, I didn't really believe her.
Six weeks into the program and I agree with her 100%.
Classical Conversations is SO COMPREHENSIVE and SO BEAUTIFUL.
Quality Material and Memorization at Classical Conversations
Where to start?
I'm a sucker for beautiful curriculum.
One of our favorites is the Pre-Scripts. Each week, Grant copies and then writes the required history sentence in cursive. After doing this, a short picture and art lesson is presented, and then the student is invited to create their own artwork.
Last week my son copied the history sentence and learned about the foreground, middle ground, and background in a piece of art. He then created his own piece of art based on that lesson and example.
He informed me that art was his "favorite subject".
While he was drawing I also read to him from the Kingfisher History Encylopedia about the history surrounding the piece of art he had just studied. (And of course we are still notebooking our way through The Story of the World!)
Geography is one area of CC that has blown me away. My daughter has learned to draw (from memory) all of North America, Central America, and The Greater and Lesser Antilles. She knows capitals and major geographic features. She is memorizing large volumes of geography terms.
My son, in Foundations, is doing weekly map tracings. He LOVES these and begs me for them every day. I wonder how many adults could locate these European Rivers?
In class last week the tutor introduced the concept of abstract art to the children with a quick, simple activity with their names. I followed up at home with a book (Action Jackson) about Jackson Pollack (whose art we saw last year at the High Museum in Atlanta).
This is by a little boy in Grant's group - his name is Caleb. Can you see his name in his artwork?
All of the information to be memorized each week is just WORTHY and wonderful.
The timeline song itself is a huge gift - I can't tell you how many times we have referenced a section of the song. It is helping BOTH of my children to have all of those huge pegs on which to hang all other information.
My son keeps a memory work binder and we put all supplemental activities he completes in this binder. He loves notebooking, and we use our Notebooking Pages membership frequently. They have notebooking pages for EVEYRYTHING under the sun, and if they aren't available you can create your own!
*Note: None of these internet links to the timeline song or other memory work are as good as buying the actual memory work CDs from Classical Conversations. We own them and it was a great investment.
Other memory work includes science, grammar, Latin, and math.
I thought my son would find all of the songs a bit hokey -- nothing could be further from the truth. He loves them and loves that he can sing along be proud of his knowledge!
To Know God and Make Him Known in Classical Conversations
This is the motto of Classical Conversations.
As a community this year we are memorizing Ephesians 6 (We use this video to help us!).
There is an overriding sense that God is at the center of everything we do at CC - and at the center of our lives.
At practicum we were shown a diagram that had God at the center and the subject areas around the outside of that --- with arrows pointing back and forth between the subjects and God.
God is at the center of EVERYTHING. Theology is the mistress of all disciplines!
For my daughter, using books like It Couldn't Just Happen and Don't Check Your Brains at the Door, fuels their study of rhetoric. Learning to write, debate, and speak effectively will help our children to defend their faith.
I know I'm leaving a million little reasons out about why we love CC, but I hope I've explained to you in adequate terms why we feel like this was the best decision for our family.
Last year I felt a bit like my old self was being sucked away - I had given SO MUCH to my children that there wasn't much left. This wasn't healthy and I wasn't happy.
Now that my kids are in CC, I have a bit more time to pursue some interests that have been on my radar. I've completed two volumes of SQUILT, and am starting to devote a little more time to my home and things like reading for pleasure!
The best thing is, I can REST in the knowledge that they are getting exactly what they need and it is of the highest quality.
It's so true - God hears our prayers and cares about us so deeply. I feel that CC has been an answer to prayer for our family.
In the coming weeks I will share each Monday about a different aspect of CC - blogs I love, favorite resources, and other things. I hope this will be helpful to CC-ers and just homeschoolers in general!
Are you a part of a CC Community? I'd love to hear about why YOU love CC!