An Honest Review of Classical Conversations

We are finishing up our 24th and final week of our first year in Classical Conversations this week. I thought I would write up a quick review of it to help other families perhaps decide if it is right for them or not.

Our community was in its first year. I also was a Foundations tutor. My three oldest, ages 10, 8 and 6 were in it all year. We added my 4 year old at semester. My 10 year old was also in Essentials. Community Day is 1 day a week. The Foundations students, ages 4-11 meet for 2 1/2 hours. There is an hour lunch/recess. Then students aged 9-11, who are optionally and additionally enrolled in Essentials meet for two more hours. The younger siblings attended a child care on campus. You can opt to not be in Essentials even if you are old enough, and it’s possible to only be in Essentials if you don’t want to do Foundations. I would recommend you only do that, however, if you already had a good grasp of the three cycles CC goes through.

The morning flies by, with a half hour each of Fine Arts-ranging from learning about the orchestra and composers, famous artists, drawing lessons to practicing the tin whistle (similar to a recorder), Science, introducing New Grammar (seven subjects, referred to as grammar as elementary schools used to be referred to as grammar schools), Presentations and Review.

The Essentials time is divided up into basics of the English language, like diagramming sentences and identifying sentence parts, learning to write well, and math games.

When I first heard about Classical Conversation in our area, I immediately wrote it off. When I began homeschooling I read copiously about the different methods of learning and styles of homeschools. I could not envision myself as a classical teacher by any stretch of the imagination. It seemed much too structured and linear for me. I am much more of a relaxed, life learning type of person. Or so I thought then.

I watched a couple of friends dive into it and saw how it benefited their families. Last summer I attended an open house and saw a model of a Foundations class at a couple different age levels in action. I thought we would give it a try, mostly to help one of my children have a consistent peer group and to have someone ELSE be in authority over another one of my children, at least for a few hours a week. I didn’t have a real grasp of the Classical Method yet, but I thought it couldn’t hurt.

I was asked to tutor in July and attended a Parent Practicum. The practicums are three day seminars held all over the country for parents for free. This was the best thing that could have happened because my eyes were opened to what the Classical Method really was, and how it can fit into even a relaxed, unschool leaning family. I got so excited about teaching and tutoring. (The moms and dads are the teachers in their homes and the classroom time teachers are referred to as tutors)

The men walking on the moon is one of the boys’ favorite parts of our time line song. 
The children stuff themselves inside a space capsule when we visited NASA.

Students at the elementary age are hard wired for memorization. You may be amazed at how your young child can sing a song from a commercial he has only heard a couple of times or when they remember something you said a few weeks ago, but to the the child it is simple. In the Classical Conversations day, we don’t teach context. We leave that up to the parent to address how they will. But it is amazing even without any context how the content they have memorized applies to the world they interact with on a daily basis.

An example in my own life: One of the ‘pegs’ in our timeline song is ‘Otto von Bismark unifies Germany’.  I had never heard of him before or understood how key this was in the history of the world. We are of German descent on both sides. We were at our local German Heritage Museum recently and I was fascinated to discover more information about von Bismark and how his reign directly affected me because of affecting my ancestors! I probably would never have even noticed his name if it weren’t for Classical Conversations. Incidents like this happen regularly to all of us because of this program. Even my four year old will randomly point out things he is applying from learning these basics during CC, and he was only in the actual class for 12 weeks.

One of our history sentences this year was in regards to the U.S. astronauts walking on the moon.
Brielle tried it out on our NASA visit.

I have watched my children blossom through the loving attention of our tutors. It is terrific for me to see other Christian adults love on and teach my children. They have all matured so much this year, which may have happened anyway, but I do attribute a lot of it to the structure and consistency of CC. My oldest set the goal for herself to memorize every single thing that was thrown her way, and be orally tested on it FOUR different times. She has one more test to do, but I am confident she will achieve her goal. I am so proud of her striving for this challenge, and completely of her own volition!

It is hard to describe all of the benefits we have gained from being a part of CC, but I hope I have given you a good overview of what we experienced and piqued your interest so you do your own research and look into it further.

how we typically do school 
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