So, here we are - year 5 of being a homeschool mom... although now I have three little ones I'm trying to juggle through school. I have to admit, if you have read any of my previous blogs about how I began homeschooling, I wasn't 100% sure I'd still being doing this. But here I am and honestly, with every year I am more passionate about it than I was the year before. My oldest is now officially in first grade (at least by state records- some subjects we started second grade in January, my middle monkey is kindergarten/first grade (As a side note, if you ever want to get a confused look from a homeschooling child, ask them what grade they are in!), and my youngest... well, she's 3 and has no interest in school other than getting the gummy bear rewards that her older brothers get. I'm actually pretty anxious to get my little princess officially started and she is probably very ready, but we're in a groove right now and I'd rather now rock the boat.
With that being said, we did embark on a journey this year that I have completely enjoyed! So, up until this past year, we primarily used Sonlight as our base curriculum and sprinkled our schooling with other programs such as Math-U-See and All About Spelling and so on. A friend of mine had introduced me to Classical Conversations, which, if I'm being quite honest, I was completely disinterested in. When I asked her what it was about, amidst a number of other things she said, all I heard was, "It's a lot of memorizing." Yuck! Who wants to just memorize facts?? That doesn't sound like very much fun particularly after spending the last 4 years of homeschooling making fun crafts and reading fun books?
But... so many of my friends spoke highly of CC (This apparently is the name given to Classical Conversations if you 'in the club' - ha!). I dug a little deeper and decided to pick the brain of another friend who just finished her first year in a CC program. Long story short- I left her house convinced I wanted to sign up. That night happen to be an information meeting for the local CC group and by the end of the evening I was hook, line and sinker. And I couldn't be more excited about a program.
The director encouraged me to read the book The Core, which really broke down the basics and logic of what Classical Conversation is, what it teaches and why it teaches the way it does. I won't spoil it for you (you'll have to go out and read it yourself) but I will say that after reading the book, it completely made sense and is now one of my top 3 favorite homeschooling books I would recommend to anyone who wants to homeschool. It just makes sense.
So Classical Conversations is not just a type of curriculum, but it is a homeschool coop that meets once a week. We started in August and I immediately fell in love with what we had walked into. So a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago asked me what I liked about it so I thought it would be worth sharing.
1. I love the fellowship and friendships created not only for my kids but the relationships I have built with other moms. The community is amazing. The ladies on our campus have developed real relationships - we pray for each other, we have laughed together, we have even cried together. It's super easy to get to know other ladies because there are only allowed 8 kids in a class at most which makes the environment a tad bit more intimate. I didn't get this in previous coops as there were so many woman and kids. These ladies quickly became my friends.
2. The curriculum is fabulous. It has given me structure as to what specifically to focus on since history and science, for example, can be so big and broad. I'll be using Apologia for science and Story of the World for history next year which coincide with the CC curriculum. This year I simply rented books from the library which emphasized what the kids were memorizing that week (They memorize one sentence about science, history, math, English, timeline history, geography and Latin each week). I simply used the sentence the kids needed to memorize as the basis for what we learn and I don't have to fret about them knowing or remembering anything else but that one sentence. It really made it easy and less stressful for me.
3. The classroom time for the kids is fun and intentional. In other coops, they just learned random information. The goal of CC is for the kids to memorize a sentence ( or equation, for example, in math)through games and activities. They even do a full science experiment and learn about fine arts (Drawing for 6 weeks, an artist for 6 weeks, learn to play the tin whistle for 6 weeks and a musician for 6 weeks). There is great purpose in what they learn and if you check out the essentials program (starting in 4th grade) and the high school challenge programs, you see where it's all going. It all builds up so that in high school the kids can have intelligent relevant discussions and debates on various topics, are able to defend their faith in God and can have thought provoking conversations with a passion for learning. Everyone says those with little kids should sit in on a Challenge class because it gives you vision for why things are done they way they are in the foundation classes (elementary).
4. it's God centered. We do the pledge to the flag every week and the pledge to the bible... it's a reminder for them weekly of the honor to live in our nation and a reminder of their commitment to God's word.
5. The kids have to give a presentation every week. I LOVE this! It has grown my oldest son so much because he has been our shy one. He has learned to get up in front of people and talk with confidence learning appropriate speaking skills... a skill I think kids are lacking more and more particularly in our media saturated culture.
6. I love that each of my children, regardless of their age is learning the same thing. This also makes homeschooling these subjects easier... they are connected and when we get home to review everything for the week, we are all on the same page and focus.
7. Field trips... we have had some super fields trips to museums, performances and factories.
After the first semester, our campus was in a need of a tutor for the 4-5 year old class and I volunteered... and I am having a blast! I have so enjoyed it so much!
These are just a few of the things that I am so thankful for being a part of this community. Now I know that Classical Conversation is not for everyone, but I challenge you to check it out! Read The Core and seek to find an information meeting in your area. It has truly been a blessing to our homeschooling experience!