We are wrapping up our third year as part of a Classical Conversations community now. In this post, I’m going to do my best to share the basics of how a Classical Conversations community works.
Classical Conversations is a Classical, Christian community education program for homeschool families designed with the goal to know God and make Him known. Families meet once weekly for 24 weeks each school year with their communities. There are three programs within CC —
Foundations: A grammar program for students aged four through twelve.
Essentials: English grammar, writing, and math games for students fourth through sixth grade. This group of students moving from the grammar stage to the dialectic stage meets in the afternoon for 2 hours following Foundations classes.
Challenge: For students in seventh through twelfth grade, this dialectic group meets from 8:30am-3:00pm once weekly for 30 weeks (6 more than Foundations & Essentials). Each subject is taught through six “strands”: grammar, exposition and composition, debate, research, rhetoric, and logic. There are 6 challenge levels a student could potentially progress through before graduation (one level per year).
Our family has, so far, only participated in Foundations. But, I am really and truly excited for the day we reach Essentials and Challenge. For now, I’ll speak to my experience with Foundations. In the near future, I have a friend lined up to share with you about Essentials and Challenge.
Foundations students are divided into classes of approximately 8 students by age, not grade. Each class has one paid parent tutor who teaches the same class for the entire year. These parent tutors are trained by CC and local CC staff before the beginning of each school year. There are also substitute tutors trained to fill in when necessary.
Since CC recognizes parents as the ultimate teachers of their children, the tutors are there not simply to teach the students but to model teaching memory work for the parents. This is so the parents can continue this work at home during the week. For this reason and others, parents who are not tutoring are expected to participate in the classroom with their child. For families of multiple children in classes, my director has encouraged us to rotate through our children’s classes one week at a time. This is to limit interruptions to the classroom and allow for the parents to have real familiarity with the memory work and teaching methods. Having followed her recommendation as much as possible, I agree this works best!
The community day generally follows this schedule:
9:00-9:30am Large Group Opening – All Foundations aged students and parents are present while the director leads us in learning the weekly timeline and scripture memory, review the parts learned in previous weeks, get to know each other through family presentations, pledge allegiance to the flag, listen to announcements, and pray together before breaking into classes.
9:30am – 12:00pm Classes – The time is divided into thirty minute increments of Student Presentations, Introduction of New Grammar (Memory Work), Science Instruction & Experimentation, Review of Previous Weeks’ Grammar, and Fine Arts. New memory work is introduced each week by subject: Science, Latin, Geography, Math, English, and History. Tutors employ different and fun methods for teaching memorization. They incorporate all learning styles so children are interested! Science includes a weekly hands-on experiment. Fine Arts are broken into six week increments of drawing techniques, music theory and practice, great artists, and orchestra and composers. Fine Arts is always one of my littles’ favorite parts!
12:00-1:00pm Lunch Time – We eat packed lunches together while parents chat and littles play.
1:00-3:00pm Essentials Class
Classical Conversations has 3 cycles. Each year is one cycle. &
nbsp;All communities are on the same cycle at the same time. The cycles cover the following material:
Cycle One: Ancient to Modern World History; Creation to Modern Age Historical Timeline; African and World Geography; Biology and Earth Science; Renaissance and Post Renaissance Masters; Baroque and Classical Composers and Music Theory; English Verbs and Prepositions; Latin Noun Endings; Multiplication Tables, Conversions, Geometric Formulas, and Algebraic Laws; Exodus 20.
Cycle Two: Pre-Reformation to Modern World History; Creation to Modern Age Historical Timeline; European and World Geography; Ecology, Astronomy, and Physical Science; Renaissance and Post Renaissance/Impressionists; Classical and Romantic Composers and Music Theory; English Pronouns, Adverbs, and Conjunctions; Latin Verb Endings; Multiplication Tables, Conversions, Geometric Formulas, and Algebraic Laws; Ephesians 6
Cycle Three: Columbus to Modern U.S. History; Creation to Modern Age Historical Timeline; U.S. Geography, Anatomy and Chemistry; Modern Art – Folk, Romantic Realist, Pop, Cartoonist and Drawing; Romantic and Modern Composers and Music Theory; English Participles, Irregular Verb Tenses and Clauses; John 1:17-7 in Latin and English; Multiplication Tables, Conversions, Geometric Formulas, Algebraic Laws; Ephesians 6.
You may notice the timeline and math memory work remains the same for each cycle. They cover a lot of information and I imagine you’ll be grateful, like us, for the repetition!
Please remember the goal for Foundation age students is memorization of the material! Very rarely will the tutors spend time expounding on the memory work in class time, because their main goal is to hammer these memory pegs firmly into place knowing that a solid grasp of the facts will serve them in wonderful ways in the dialectic and rhetoric stages. If you’re interested in joining a Classical Conversations community, it is a great idea to attend an information meeting and an open house at a local community. You can see the tutoring in action and learn if it’s a good fit for your family.
Our community also schedules optional fun extras periodically for other days during the week like field trips, review nights, curriculum swaps, and moms’ nights out. Our family has felt so blessed by the genuine fellowship and friendships we’ve developed within our community. The families we’ve met are so supportive and loving. I’m sure that a lot of the unity of our community has to do with our great director and I’m grateful for her godly leadership.
I’d really love to follow up this post with one answering any questions you have about CC, so please comment with any and all questions. No question too big or too small! Have you heard something about CC that you’re not sure is true? Just ask me! Have a unique family circumstance that you’re not sure would work with community days? Ask about it! I’d hate for unanswered questions or false impressions to keep you from being part of something that has been such a blessing for our family and many others. Maybe CC will work for you too? Feel free to also ask questions about Essentials and Challenge, because I have great friends who are happy to be a resource for other families by answering these questions.
Want more info?
For a basic overview, here’s a quick video by Classical Conversations.
You might also like my posts on Classical Education:
A Beginning Glossary of Terms for Classical Education
At Home with the Classical Method – a series of “how-to” classically educate by subject
Curious how families homeschool with Classical Conversations at home? Check out my A Day in the Life series of posts (a new family is added each month!).
And finally, to see what materials are used for CC, take a look at the online catalog. Soon I’ll share my favorite materials for doing CC at home and if you’re just beginning, what tools I’d recommend you not go without!
Thanks for reading! I’m excited for where this conversation will take us!