Monday, March 19, 2012

Classical Conversations: The Foundation of our Homeschool

I shared some time ago about how much I love the Classical Conversations Foundations program.  It is still the backbone of our studies, and I grow to appreciate it more and more each year.  Our oldest son is finishing his fifth year in the program.  My husband and I have both tutored in Essentials and Foundations respectively, and I now direct our local Foundations and Essentials programs while he tutors and directs the Challenge A level.

You certainly don't have to be this involved to make CC work for your family, but I wanted to provide a little context for my perspective.  Our younger son will begin Foundations next year, and I can't believe how much I have learned since we last had a 4-year-old in the program.


At Home
There are almost as many plans for the use of CC at home as there are families involved, so this is just our perspective.  Take what you find helpful, and do the rest your way.  

In our homeschool, the Foundations memory work gives us a framework for all of our school activities.  Our primary goal is to commit the facts to memory.  Then we expand on the themes for the current cycle.  We mainly do this by reading good books.  Before the year begins, I try to make out a list of books that we will read that expand on the history, science, art, and great composers.  I keep track of which ones our local library has, and then I choose some for us to purchase.

At times, we will work on projects and other extra activities that help us learn more, but I try not to get bogged down with trying to do tons of extra stuff.  We use web resources, games, and ipad apps where appropriate.  For themes where there may not be much information or those we may not be able to spend a lot of time on, we can always use the history highlights and science snippets provided by CC to read a little about the subject for the week.

Goals and Priorities
As I share more about what we have been doing in specific subjects this year, you may see that preparing our children for the CC Challenge program is a driving goal for our homeschool.  Some of the supplemental activities and the way we study some topics has been greatly influenced by Challenge activities.  

You may also see that I am not concerned with teaching "subjects" so much as I am striving to teach skills.  There is no "science" or "history" category on my planning sheet. Instead, I focus on specific activities that incorporate a variety of subjects throughout the year.

In order not to overwhelm Jonathan and myself, I realized this year that I had to back up and choose a few main goals.  I would rather teach a few things really well than to give a mediocre passing to a lot of different subjects.  

These are the goals that guide what we are doing in school right now:

- Teach basic Bible study skills and hold God's Word up as a guide for character development.
- Master foundational math concepts.
- Practice good reading and writing skills with a focus on grammar and mechanics.
- Expand on a basic knowledge of world geography.
- Demonstrate how all "subjects" teach us more about who God is and the world He created.

It is fun and interesting to do some detailed study about various topics, but I realize that there is plenty of time for that later.  Top priority for me at this stage is to nurture a love for learning and tackle the basics.

Pricing and Information
For some more detailed information about the basics of Classical Conversations, there is a great overview post at Simple Homeschool.  If you're interested in the cost for a family to participate, I wrote a bit about that before, but you can view the 2012/2013 registration materials on the CC website.

For Foundations, required materials now include only the Foundations Guide ($60) and a tin whistle ($10), but most families would recommend the audio CDs ($35) and the Classical Acts and Facts History Cards ($22/set for 4 sets).  These items (except the tin whistle) will be used by all of your Foundations students for the duration of the program--no matter how many children you have.  There are also many other helpful resources available from CC.  My new favorite is the iPad memory work app.

For Essentials, you will need the EEL Guide ($45), and The IEW teacher/student materials ($49).  I would also suggest the IEW Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Syllabus ($35) which is used if your community will be working through the videos together as well as the English Grammar and Quid et Quo trivium tables ($10 each).  The only consumable resource out of these is the IEW student book.

Last week, I posted about the resources we have been using for third grade this year.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this concise summary of CC :) We are in our first year off CC, and I'm actually starting up a new community that will begin this fall. I love the program, the more I learn about it the more I want to tell everyone I know how amazing it is!

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