What is Classical Conversations?

Our first informational meeting is Sunday, November 11th, from 3-5pm at The Gathering in downtown Gadsden. This is also where we will be meeting next year. We’d love for you to come and learn more about CC! Also, for Gadsden families who are interested in sitting in on a class, our sweet Trussville/Argo CC director, Karen Cunningham, has opened up Tuesday, November 13th just for you to visit. This post is an overview of Classical Conversations and what it looks like. Please let me know if you have any questions! We will have other info meetings after Christmas.

Classical Conversations (CC) is a leader in the home-centered education movement. It is a mission: To know God and to make Him known. It is a model: CC combines the classical method of learning with a biblical worldview. It is a method: CC families meet in communities where parents train parents to implement home-centered education well. CC encourages the biblical pattern of learning expressed by Proverbs 24:3-4: knowledge—the grammar—fills the metaphorical house of the soul with treasures; understanding—the dialectic—is what holds the house together, giving it integrity; wisdom—the rhetoric—is what builds it, providing it with its final purpose. Classical Conversations celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2012. There are CC communities in almost every state and also in other countries. We meet once a week for 24 weeks out of the school year, 3 times each month with one week off each month. For the 2013-2014 school year, the Gadsden campus will begin in August and meet each Wednesday.

Classical Conversations communities all use the same material, and all tutors are moms who are trained the same way. This gives continuity, so that if you find yourself moving in the middle of the year, you can join in with another CC group and never skip a beat! Foundations is set up in 3 Cycles that repeat. The beauty of this is that if your child goes through the same Cycle in first and 4th grade, you can go deeper the second time around and this gives them a chance to cement the information in their minds. This past summer, I went through the Foundations tutor training to be a substitute. *As a side note, tutors are paid and this gives many families the opportunity to participate in CC who may not be able to otherwise.* (For a list of fees, click here.) It was incredible! I left feeling totally empowered and knowing I have an awesome support group of other homeschool moms who are also walking this path. CC’s goal is “to redeem two generations at one time.” If you were not educated Classically (few of us were-I’m a public school kid, myself), for you, this means you get a chance to REALLY LEARN HOW TO LEARN-not just learn information for a test and then forget it (sound familiar?) This is accomplished through parents staying in the classroom with their kids. For moms with multiple kids, they rotate throughout the weeks to the different classes. You may notice I keep saying “tutor,” not “teacher.” That is because the tutor is not there to teach, she is there to give information. It is your job to explain things on an appropriate level once you get home.

The FOUNDATIONS level is for children from 4 years old through 6th or 7th grade and meets from 9 am – 12 noon. In Foundations, children memorize an astounding quantity of information, most set to songs and with motions. Each week, they receive new memory work in seven subjects: 7 points on the timeline, a history sentence, geography, math, science, Latin, and English grammar. The classes are led by trained tutors, and parents remain in class with their children, so they may learn how to reinforce the new grammar during the week at home. In addition to the memory work, students also participate in a fine arts project/lesson, a science project, and an oral presentation each week. I love this, because I am not very good at doing the hands-on projects at home, and I know they will get it at CC. Fine arts is split into 4, six-week segments: drawing, music theory/learning to play the tin whistle, great artists, orchestra and composers. Each foundations class is learning the same thing, they are just divided by age so that the tutors can more appropriately relay the information. The morning is divided into 30 minute chunks and looks something like this:
9-9:30 Opening Assembly
9:30-10 New Grammar
10-10:30 Fine Arts
10:30-11 Science
11-11:30 Presentations and Snack
11:30-12 Review and Clean Up

After Foundations, we all meet together for lunch and the kids can play together. This is so important! I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. For the moms, this is when connections take place and relationships deepen. For the kids, it gives them time to get their wiggles out and to play with other children.

The ESSENTIALS level is for 4th-6th graders and meets from 1-3 pm. Essentials covers three areas: language arts, writing, and math review. Essentials provides a complete language arts program using CC’s own Essentials of the English Language (EEL) guide. Material for the writing portion comes from The Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa. I recently sat in on an Essentials class and was amazed at what these kids are learning! To be quite honest, I felt very not smart. But at the same time, I felt hopeful that I will learn all of this along-side my daughter next year!

Our goal is to launch the Gadsden CC group with Challenge A (7th and 8th grade) in place as well, which provides the students’ complete curriculum, including Saxon Math. Yesterday, some other moms and I visited a campus and saw Challenge A for the first time. It was amazing to see what it looks like when all that these kids learn in Foundations and Essentials comes together! Several of the students were new to CC and had never been in Foundations and Essentials, but easily caught up and were excelling. Challenge meets 30 weeks in the year and provides their complete curriculum, including Saxon Math, Apologia Science, classic literature, writing, debate, Latin, logic, rhetoric, and more. The beauty of the children walking through Foundations and Essentials first, is that they learn the vocabulary of these subjects so that when they have to use it, they are a step ahead and can pull out what they already know. CC also provides help with transcript preparation and encourages standardized testing-not to compare with other children, but to help you see any areas you may need to work on more to prepare for college.

If your interest has been piqued at all, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE click on the links in this post to be directed to the Classical Conversations website and take the time to explore it! Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. And if you want an even more detailed blog post about what Foundations and Essentials look like, check out this link from a mom in her 3rd year of Classical Conversations. Hope to see you at our info meeting on November 11th!

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