You homeschool because you feel called by God to teach your children. You homeschool because you want to build their godly character. But let’s be honest. You also homeschool because you want your kids to be smart!
At the very least, you want your children to have a good education. You don’t want them to end up on Jay Leno’s Jaywalking segment. (This is when he asks people questions like, “When was the War of 1812?” and they don’t know.)
Why I Wanted Nothing to Do With Classical Conversations
Friends’ experiences with Classical Conversations (CC), while positive, did not convince me that it was for me and my family.
Expense. I thought CC was outside classes that were much too expensive for a large family like mine.
Time. I thought CC would require me to be gone one day a week. That simply wasn’t possible with our family’s schedule.
Dry. When I began homeschooling, the prevailing thinking was to avoid traditional ways of doing school. I knew CC involved lots of memorization. I wanted my kids to read living books and learn actively instead of learning by rote.
Why I Changed My Mind About CC
When my CC-loving friend suggested that I buy the old materials that were on sale cheap, I decided to do some research. I found and read Leigh Bortins’s free ebook and something clicked. I had been homeschooling long enough to learn that memorization was not all bad. While not always fun, it laid the foundation for advanced learning and making connections. I had seen this at work in my teen who learned music as a child, quit the piano for a couple of years, and then returned to it with a passion.
I learned that my children did not have to attend outside classes. I could use CC materials to help my children memorize key information in the major areas at home. What’s more, the materials were quite inexpensive at the time of the sale and buying used. Even new, they’re a bargain for what you get.
I discovered that my kids love to memorize. I sold them on the idea that if they would memorize the information covered in CC, they would be smarter than 95% of other kids. I should note that I just made that figure up. Don’t tell them. The great thing is that they were so motivated that they begged to continue with the second semester’s material when we’d finished the first early.
How to Make CC Work for Your Family
The wonderful thing about doing CC at home is that it works alongside any other curriculum you choose. Using it at home as I do also means that you can use the Cycle that you want (which corresponds to periods of history) and can leave out any aspects you choose. We are using Cycle 3 this year as we are studying American history. We do not do the Latin, choosing instead to study Latin word roots with flashcards. We also don’t use the suggested art or science experiments as we have other curriculum for these subjects.
CC is great for any age, making it perfect for large families like mine. I use the CC CD with Power Point presentations. I connect my laptop to our large-screen TV and everyone can see and hear. My kids, ages 7-14 participate. I explain the purpose of the skip-counting and laugh along with them at the silliness of some of the songs (i.e., the singer laughing at the end of some history songs that seems out of place). We also freely discuss whether or not we like the various songs, which seems to make the process more agreeable.
CC is time-efficient. If we get nothing else done but Bible and CC, I know we’ve covered the most important material. You and your kids can quickly review history, geography, science, English, math, and Latin if you choose. In addition to the CD and guidebook (see a sample of the guidebook here), we also own the history timeline cards. Ours are in clear plastic sleeves in small binders that we got used. We learn these historical events in order as a family, covering just two new events a day. Can you imagine you and your children knowing all the major events of history IN ORDER in one school year? You will experience it if you use this curriculum. If you’re pressed for time, simply cover and review the week’s new material. If you have more time, review the facts you’ve already learned. A full review takes us about 30 minutes. New material takes us only 5-10. You can also purchase music CDs to listen to in the car. I don’t like them because the material isn’t presented by week, but rather by subject. The computer CDs are organized the same way, but are much easier to navigate than a CD player in a 9-passenger van.
You can make CC the basis for a full curriculum if you choose. There are websites like this one with suggestions for how to do it. You can get more information about Classical Conversations at the website and be sure to check out my podcast where we discuss Classical Conversations community programs and ideas for making it work with your curriculum.
What Do You Think?
I should say that I am not affiliated with CC in any way, nor have I received any freebies for this review (too bad, huh?). I’ve just become convinced that many homeschoolers could benefit from including this excellent curriculum in their day.
Have you tried CC classes or curriculum? Are there other reasons that you don’t think CC is for you?