Classical Conversations: An Overview

Heidi Scovel documents Living Lovely at her blog, Mt. Hope Chronicles. There she celebrates (in words and images) her journey as wife, homeschooling mother of three rambunctious boys, photographer, book collector, and lover of the little things.

Classical Conversations is a nation-wide program that helps train and equip parents to provide their children with a Christian classical education. Individual communities hire parents to be trained as tutors through Classical Conversations practicums, who then lead small classes of children in weekly meetings.

For the grammar stage (grades K4-6th), the Foundations program meets for 24 weeks during the school year. This allows for a full month off in December, two weeks for spring break, and ends the year in early April (though, I believe, individual communities set their own schedules). The Foundations classes meet one morning each week for 3 hours. (Leaving plenty of time during the week as well as during the year for additional studies.)

During the morning classes, students are led by their tutors through individual oral presentations (to learn public speaking skills). They are then introduced to memory work in timeline/history, science, geography, English grammar, Latin, math, and Bible. The memory work is followed by science and fine arts projects. Parents are required to attend classes with their children so that they observe and learn from the teaching modeled by the tutors, which will in turn help them guide their children in reviewing the memory work at home.

The memory work outlined in the Foundations classes is designed to prepare the students for the higher-level classes. CC recommends that parents supplement with phonics, math, and handwriting studies at home.

Beginning in 3rd or 4th grade, an afternoon session is available to supplement the Foundations classes through 6th grade. During Essentials, students learn language arts and structure with The Essentials of the English Language Guide, writing through the Institute for Excellence in Writing programs, and math through challenging problems and games.

Day-long (30 week) Challenge programs for logic and rhetoric stages begin in 7th grade. These classes cover math, Latin and Spanish, literature and writing, science labs, debate, rhetoric, and geography (mapping the whole world free-hand from memory!). Students complete lessons and assignments at home during the remainder of the week.

Classical Conversations provides exactly the elements that are weaknesses for me and opportunities that my boys need: 1.) Consistency and discipline in memory work across all subjects. 2.) Accountability. 3.) A social network of families interested in the same educational goals. 4.) Experience in a classroom situation. 5.) Opportunity to make new friends. 6.) Learning from other adults and mentors. 7.) Hands-on science and fine arts projects. 8.) Practice in public speaking.

It felt like Christmas the day my Foundations Curriculum Guide (and other materials) came in the mail. I poured over it and felt my excitement growing. It contains all the memory work for all 3 cycles. (We will only need one copy for all 3 boys for all the years of Foundations.)

Every year, Foundations students memorize all of the Veritas Press History Timeline cards from ancient history to modern times. These are memorized with hand motions. (The cards have additional information on the back that can be read during the week, as well as references for additional information in resources such as the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia or Victor Journey Through the Bible for Biblical events.) Students also memorize the U.S. presidents yearly.

Math memory work is also the same each cycle: skip counting numbers up to 15 and other math facts such as the formula for finding the area of a circle.

Students memorize a HUGE amount of geography (new material each cycle): not only countries but also mountains, bodies of water, ancient civilizations, deserts, the original 13 colonies, etc. Cycle 3 consists of all the U.S. states and capitals, bodies of water, mountains, territories, trails, canals, and more.

Classical Conversations now offers beautiful cards (very similar to the VP timeline cards) to correspond with the 3 years of science memory work, such as ocean zones, types of volcanoes, parts of an animal cell, kingdoms of living things, seven biomes, laws of thermodynamics, parts of the circulatory system, and the definition of catastrophism.

Other memory work includes weekly history sentences (the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Bill of Rights, the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, Charlemagne…), Latin (declensions, conjugations, and Bible translation), English (parts of speech, participles, irregular verb tenses, and clauses), and Bible memory. In addition to weekly hands-on science projects, students participate in four 6-week fine arts studies (drawing, famous artists, composer/instruments of the orchestra, and music theory/tin-whistle lessons).

Since my teaching/homeschooling strength (as well as Levi’s) is content/context (rather than discipline/skill), I am very excited about using the memory work as a spring-board for supplemental studies during the week. All of the memory work is on a CD, so that will make it very easy to review every day. We’ll be doing CC work and bare-bones studies during the week throughout the fall (when baby arrives), and adding in more when January rolls around. I’ll share more about how Classical Conversations will play out in our over-all studies in a future post.

Read more about Heidi’s 1st semester experiences with CC as she explains her day in more details and addresses the benefits of memory work.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling | The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori | Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool | Delightful Learning

7 thoughts on “Classical Conversations: An Overview

  1. Brandy

    Found your blog through Confessions of a Homeschooler and am thrilled to follow a blog by a classical homeschooler (and involved in Classical Conversations at that!). We've placed you as one of our "best blogs" to follow at http://halfahundredacrewood.blogspot.com/ Hopefully you'll find some useful information on our blog for your classical homeschool as well (but we are just now starting out)!

  2. Martha

    Just found your blog and started reading your Classical Series. I will have to come back and read more when I have time.

    I appreciate the Classical method and am trying to move in that direction.

    marthaschool.blogspot.com

  3. Pingback: Classical Conversations from the Inside | Leigh Bortins

  4. Pingback: Homeschool: How To Get Started :: Which Method? | Rochelle Barlow

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