For 4th Grade, we plan to make a big change in how we homeschool. We will be adding Classical Conversations Foundations classes once per week. We attended an open house for the Foundations class offered by our local group in February and our whole family loved it.
Classical Conversations is a Christian based classical education program that meets once per week for three hours for 24 weeks during the school year. During the class a tutor (one of the parents who is paid to teach) introduces the new material and reviews the older material. The kids are divided by age into classes of no more than 8 kids per class. Parents attend with their kids. The Foundations class covers memory work for the following topics each week:
- A timeline with 161 events from creation to 9/11/2001
- History sentences
- Geography (learning continents, oceans, countries, cities, mountain range,s and other bodies of water)
- English grammar
- Fine Arts (composers, drawing, playing the tin whistle and reading music, and studying famous artists)
- Public speaking (kids give a short presentation to their class each week).
Classical Conversations’ Foundations material is broken down into 3 cycles. Each cycle lasts one school year (24 weeks broken into two 12 week semesters). The 3 year cycle keeps repeating, so kids starting in first grade will be able to complete each cycle twice. The 3 cycles include the following material:
- Cycle 1: Ancient Through Modern World History, Biology, Earth Science, Art (Masters & Drawing), English (Verbs & Prepositions), Latin (Noun Endings/Declensions), Bible Memory (Exodus 20)
- Cycle 2: Pre-Reformation World History Through Today, Ecology, Astronomy, Physical Science, Art (Impressionists, Drawing), English (Pronouns, Adverbs, Conjunctions), Latin (Verb Endings/Conjugations), Bible Memory (Ephesians 6)
- Cycle 3: U.S. History (Columbus to Current Events), Anatomy, Chemistry, Art (American Masters, Drawing), English (Participles, Irregular Verb Tenses, and Clauses), Latin (Translating John 1), Bible Memory (John 1:1-7)
Classical Conversations also has an Essentials program that kids can start anytime in grades 3-6. Using Essentials of the English Language Guide and the Institute for Excellence in Writing programs along with math games, the Essentials program helps older elementary children improve grammar, writing and math skills. The program generally meets after Foundations and a lunch break on the same day. Parents also attend Essentials classes with their kids.
Challenge is the Classical Conversations program for middle school and high school kids (grades 7-12). The program lasts most of the day (from around 8:30 to 3 pm or 3:30 pm depending on the location) and meets once per week. The Classical Conversations selected curriculum is mandatory for high school kids and they complete assignments the rest of the week at home.
The program is based on the classical model of education (which was used by US public schools until the 1950’s). In the classical model of education there are three stages of learning called the Trivium. The three classical stages of learning are:
- The grammar stage (knowledge/memorization, generally elementary school)
- The dialectic stage (understanding, generally middle school)
- The rhetoric stage (wisdom, generally high school)
- The classical model makes sense to me.
- I can add it to what I am doing without making a complete change if I do not want to. We are committing to 4th Grade only at this point, but I have a feeling we will at least complete the Foundations cycles. See our 4th grade curriculum selections here.
- I like the community aspect, and Katie enjoyed being around other kids in a small classroom setting.
- The memorization is great! After our open house visit in February, Katie wanted to learn the Timeline Song. We play it in the car maybe once or twice a week. It is the end of April now and Katie just about has it memorized (she is at least 95% there). This is a 12 minute song, and it has been easy for her. It is clear to me that Katie, and I suspect most kids, have a great capacity for learning facts. She is already starting to connect the dots with some of the timeline events when we are on field trips, etc.
- When I was in public school, we only covered social studies and American history in the lower grades. I don’t remember covering world history until 10th grade. I really like the idea of covering world history and geography from a young age. In fact, in Classical Conversations, 7th grade Challenge students map the world by hand.
- Although we do a lot of science experiments at home, we welcome more. I also like the emphasis on the scientific method.
- Although we were already covering music and art, the addition of artists and composers will be great.
- There is still plenty of time to cover other material on the off weeks since Classical Conversations only meets for 24 weeks of the school year.
Have you used Classical Conversations? What is your experience?