It’s spring. The time of year when more and more people are frustrated and reconsidering what schooling should look like for their family for the upcoming year.
As our family is finishes up our eighth year with Classical Conversations, I remember clearly the trepidation I felt as I went to that information meeting the spring of my oldest child’s kindergarten year. I went to CC’s practicum and had no idea really what I was signing up for. I had gone from hard-core, publicly schooled, full-time working woman to part-time, homeschooling person? Trust me, I get it.
If you’re considering beginning Classical Conversations, looking around for answers, or just looking for encouragement to continue, you’re in the right place. Use this information to guide you during this journey… And a few insights into what I wish I had known.
10) Family Is the Focus
Classical Conversations is family learning at its finest. The memory work with this program is the same no matter the age, and while the six year old is definitely learning at a different level than the ten year old, they both are memorizing the same baseline facts. In CC, your elementary kids of all ages learn together, and life becomes so much easier when you aren’t juggling different curriculums. We’re all in the same historical time period reading about the same people. For science, the whole family can dive deep into the solar system or animal classifications together. I can’t imagine trying to juggle multiple kids and multiple historical periods for learning.
In addition, you get to know the families at school as a unit. There are weekly family presentations which introduce all the families in your community. You will know your kids’ friends, their parents, and their siblings simply by being in class with your children. Play dates are a family affair because you all know everyone, and the kids all get to see their own friends while you talk to your parent friends. Drop off programs don’t offer this.
9) Tutors Offer Accountability
Homeschooling can put you in a bubble with your kids if you don’t fight it. And let’s face it, sometimes our kids don’t listen to us – not only as parents but also as teachers. You both need someone else speaking wisdom into their lives.
In Classical Conversations, the design for the Foundations program is that the tutor to encourages and shows parents how to work with their own kids on the memory work at home. Foundations is not a typical teaching class for the kids with explanations and projects as in traditional school. The memory work is being introduced and reviewed through games and fun activities; the deep dives are for you to do at home as their true teacher. Their spongy brains absorb the facts at CC while having fun.
In this small group of kids, the tutors know your kid, their strengths and weaknessess, and are always available to give parents extra support. Having other grown-ups in their lives will give them more even more adults to pour into and love on them. Because of this, my kids are comfortable around other grown ups. I love to watch them comfortably sit down next to their grown up friends and speak like equals. To come home from class talking about what their tutor said. The respect is mutual.
In CC, I benefit from adult peer pressure to help me make sure my kid is doing “school” with as they recite memory work and complete Essentials writing papers. Every week, I have a tutor to “report” to. Even if they don’t really know which kid knows their memory work, at least someone else has a peek into my family life. That keeps me on track. This mom doesn’t want other parents to know of her slacking tendencies! I pay a tutor and pretend that she’s holding me accountable. It’s sad but true.
8) Kids Need Other Little People
I always encourage new homeschool families to find a community even if they are not a part of CC. Homeschooling is hard without people! It’s so good for the kids to know that they are not the only family living this way and that there are people like them. My kids’ best friends are homeschool kids.
At least once a week for 24 weeks a year, I know we will be around similarly-minded families living life together. The kids have friends who also think learning is fun and who sing history songs on the playground. They get to hear about new hobbies during presentation and explore the woods at lunch while squawking tin-whistles at each other.
Most homeschoolers don’t homeschool at home. Being in a Classical Conversations community means field trips, play dates, summer activities, and friends.
Not to mention, the kids often want to work harder at home in order to be able to play the review games better each week in class. There’s a benefit to seeing the other kids know their work. Kids also don’t want others to think they don’t know the material. Kid peer pressure at its finest.
7) Parents Needs People, Too
Being an at-home parent is hard. And having these kids who go with you everywhere makes is even harder.
Stay at home parents have to seek out opportunities to make connections and see people. Being part of a CC community gives you that connection automatically. Making relationships are easier when you have something in common – you will find that CC moms have lots in common automatically. Community is so important.
Through Classical Conversation, moms have other moms to
complain to tell about their week or take them meals after a new baby or see their new haircut. Maybe you’re struggling and just need to sit in the car for an hour while another mom assumes responsibility while your kids are in class.
It’s happened. The best friends I’ve had along this journey have all been from our CC group.
By the way, if you’re a homeschool dad, you’re awesome! Please get involved in the CC community, come to the after class gathering, know your kids’ tutors, and show the kids that dads are involved too. We love seeing dads at community day and especially having dads step up to tutor a class!
6) CC Teenagers are Amazing
As a whole, the homeschooling teenagers I’ve been around helped me look forward to having a teenager. I didn’t know that was possible.
Classical Conversations started with the Challenge programs – junior high and high school. Did you know that? Foundations and Essentials were developed specifically with the upper years in mind. Without understanding this fact, it’s difficult to sit in a six year old class and understand why they need to memorize a list of prepositions. The kids don’t understand what they’re leaning, and you don’t know why you should bother. Ask an older mom why this is important, and go visit an Essentials class for 4th to 6th grades. It all makes sense later.
When you’re sitting with your fifth grader in Essentials and working through verbs, ask the mom of an 8th grader why it’s worth memorizing verb conjugations. Learn how English grammar knowledge will push them forward in their studies of Latin. Then go play outside and remember your kids are still little enough to need play time! And lots of it!
Keep your eyes focused to the future years and remember that’s guiding our why for today. Seriously, go sit in a big kid class. See the 16 and 17 year olds sitting confidently around a table discussing literature with their tutor. Watch them debate important issues and relate their studies back to world events and their faith. This visit will convince you to keep the pace in the younger years. Challenge kids are awesome, and I want my kids to be like them in character, learning, and maturity.
Check out the rest of this post at Classical Conversations: Our Top Ten Reasons After Eight Years (Part Two)! There was just too much goodness for one post!