Overview: Read about some of the Classical Conversations pros and cons as I describe why we chose it for our family this year.
For the first time in several years, I have an extra zing of excitement running through my veins about starting the new school year. I mean, there is always a bit of a thrill to think of starting fresh in the fall, with all the
mistakes aspects of last year behind us and a clean slate to begin anew. I think every homeschool mom feels that enthused anticipation, and it’s a good thing.
But this year I am REALLY excited. Because after much deliberation and discussion, we have decided to enroll our two remaining homeschool students into Classical Conversations. And I am really looking forward to it!
In case you’re not familiar with it, Classical Conversations is a homeschool curriculum that uses the classical model to teach the various school subjects. But it is more than just a curriculum — when you are doing Classical Conversations (hereafter referred to as CC), you are also involved in a local CC group that meets once per week. There your children participate in a class where they are led in group discussions about what they have been working on at home during the week.
Pros about Classical Conversations for our family:
Maybe I’m excited because it’s going to be DIFFERENT. For years we’ve kinda been going along in the same groove, and while it hasn’t been a horrible groove, it has gotten a little predictable and dare I say, boring? With most of my students being in high school, and all of them this past year doing homeschool via the independent learning model, it has begun to seem as if each day is pretty much the same as all the rest. So the fact that after many years of the same ol’, same ‘ol, we will be changing up our routine a bit – while still keeping the independent learning model — that sounds like fun to me. Especially when I will be dealing with the emotions of missing the three older girls… I think I’ll need the distraction of something new! :-)
I’m also excited because I think I won’t feel as alone as I have been feeling the last several years. Homeschooling high school can be a lonely business. Most of the local groups around here seem to be geared towards the elementary years; and to be honest, even those for high school have seemed like they would be a waste of time. My high school kids haven’t needed extra-curricular activities; there has been a lot of work to be done. So perhaps my loneliness has been self-inflicted; but be that as it may, I have not been receiving any continuing education nor talking much with other homeschool moms for a long time now. I’m looking forward to getting involved in a local community again! (And so are the kids, I might add.)
Another reason for my thrilled-ness (new word à la Annie) is that I think the kids are going to get from this program some of what I have wanted for all of my kids from the beginning but have never been able to provide until now. I had to give up on the classical model early on in our homeschool journey due to logistics; now we can pick it back up again. Latin and logic will become part of our everyday existence. Also, they will be learning about the arts and discussing them with an adult who is educated about them. They will receive feedback about their writing. And they will be learning how to present themselves in an oral report situation. These are things I did not feel comfortable tackling in our home environment. Now we’ll have guidance in all of it, as well as other authoritative (or at least objective) feedback to keep us on track.
I’m excited that there will be accountability for my kids to stay on schedule with the rest of the class. This means there might even be the possibility of a real summer break next year! What a concept! They will also be kept accountable for the level of their work and their contributions to the class discussions. I am looking forward to having help with encouraging my kids in these areas! Maybe I won’t have to be such a nag. :-)
You may remember my post about my son’s maturity level. I’m excited about CC because I’m hopeful that some of the concerns I have for him will be addressed this year. One neat thing is that for the high school program, CC does not require which level your child should be in. That means that even though my son will be a junior this year, we can enroll him in Challenge 2, which is their level for the second year of high school. I think this will fit him best maturity-wise. Though he is already ahead of the science and math coursework for this level, he can just work independently on those two subjects at home and still participate in the weekly discussions. I think the accountability of CC will be a great growth-inducer for him.
And the youngest, who is going into 7th grade, is going to fit perfectly into Challenge A. She will have to use the same math curriculum as she did in 6th grade, but since it’s Saxon 8/7, which is higher level general math, this is not a bad thing. All the other subjects will be a wonderful match for her. I’m excited to see what she learns! And she’s a social bug, so she will love the interaction.
Cons about Classical Conversations for our family:
The cost is a biggie! It is HIGH — over $1300 per student. That’s not large when compared to private school or online courses; but for us, whose total homeschool budget has been around $500 for the last several years, this is a big commitment. AND we’re trying to get out of debt and meet other financial goals… In the past, we have pretty much unilaterally made decisions against programs like this, almost always exclusively because of cost. Of course, in the past we would have had more students to pay for, which is part of it. But even for just two students, we had to consider long and hard about the cost of CC before making the decision to enroll them. In the end we decided that the educational and maturity needs of the two youngest merit the money outlay. We’ll see if I still think that further into the year. I’ll keep you posted.
Another difficulty we’ve had to consider is that our house is on the market, and it could sell at any time. That means that our commitment to CC and the local CC group may be interrupted. I’ve been reassured that our tuition could transfer to a new group wherever we might move, but it is disconcerting to think about getting involved someplace and developing relationships and then having to uproot ourselves. However, we’ve decided not to put our lives on hold while we wait for the house to sell. We’ll deal with this if and when it happens.
So those are the ins and outs of our decision to change things up in our homeschool this year. The more I read and hear about Classical Conversations, the more excited I become! I’m registered for one of their free three-day teacher practicums that will be happening locally this summer — woot! Expect to hear more about this curriculum as the year progresses! :-)
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