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?
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Thanks for joining the “What’s Working Wednesday” link-up, Melanie! You made some really great points here, and I appreciate your perspective as someone who didn’t think they would do CC but found great reasons to do it anyway. I have friends who’ve done it off and on and I have always been curious. Your post gives me a lot of insight!
Renée at NextGen Homeschool
You have a great blog, Renee, and I will be checking out your Wednesday links! Glad you found the post helpful. Someone on Twitter told me they didn’t know you could do CC at home, so I’m glad to share that information.
As someone who felt ill equipped for the rigors of Middle and High School, I have found the early at home training in CC to be very productive preparation for my kids who are now enrolled in the CC Challenge program. Costly? Definitely. (eBay and used bookstores helped AND our tutor was willing to consider an exchange of services. 🙂 ). There are so many good options out there for older students, but having already experienced CC at home, I didn’t want to leave what I knew was working. Good news? Even for those who skip some of the subjects at home, your student will still learn the material (i.e. skipping Latin that were not ready for with the youngers was not a big deal when they reached Challenge and learned it quickly b/c they were developmentally ready to do so).
So glad you shared about using Classical Conversations. We are now memorizing the periodic table. I didn’t even do that in high school!
SUPER HELPFUL! thank you!! am 2/3 of the way done with my first year homeschooling…and my first year at CC (in Foundations). my five-yr old and i love the material…but i’m not a fan of “losing” a whole morning of homeschooling (granted we do gain some good instruction at our community mtgs). i didn’t realize i could use the materials at home WITHOUT attending the community mtgs! great idea!!
Karen, I’m so glad this was helpful information. I will be doing a show on Classical Conversations that will be published the 2nd Tuesday of March at http://ultimateradioshow.com/show-hosts/the-homeschool-sanity-show/ I will be talking with a tutor and a parent who attends a community meeting to give listeners the whole range of perspectives. Congrats on your first year!
I am attempting to do Challenge A CC at home with my twin sons this fall. Where do you find the CC items used/sale prices?
I used Homeschool Classifieds. You will find the link in this post: https://psychowith6.com/the-best-places-to-buy-borrow-sell-or-donate-used-homeschool-curriculum/ Hope it helps!
I agree with everything you said in your post. It is a great foundational program for children. I love that if you only get Bible and CC done, you’ve done well for a day. However, I do not think I could do it at home on my own – if I am thinking realistically. The benefit of attending a CC community is the consistency. I believe that to be ONE of the greatest benefits of the CC community. A few other benefits are the art, science, and student presentations. These are things are more than likely would not do at home – though in my dreams I would.
Lisa, I really appreciate your feedback. I think you’re right that many families can benefit from the accountability of the the CC community and the other activities. If I hadn’t already been part of a weekly co-op, I would have been a lot more interested in the community program. The great thing is there are options. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I enjoy seeing the various perspectives people have on CC. We’ve been doing it for four years and I have seen it used in a wide variety of ways. 🙂 I’ll have to look for your post from the Ultimate Radio Show. Blessings – Colleen at http://www.solagratiamom.com
Colleen, thanks for checking out my post on Classical Conversations. I am still loving it and I am going to be sharing more CC goodness soon. It really is great how flexible the program is. I’m going to check out your site.
Hi. Your post was very helpful. I am just looking into starting cc. I have a 4th, 2nd, & 1st grader. Could u recommend what material I would need thru cc to get started. Planning to do it at home without
the community. Thanks, much. Meg
I recommend the Foundations materials. The most important piece, in my opinion, is the memory work CD. Here’s the link for the Cycle 3 CD. http://www.classicalconversationsbooks.com/cy3meworecd.html Choose what part of history you want to study and get that cycle. I recommend 3 for next year because that’s what the communities will be studying. The other piece I think is vital is the history timeline cards. The Foundations Guide is optional. It’s nice to quiz the kids from it without going through all the slides, but I don’t use it that often. I hope that helps!
Great info.! Thanks for posting! By the history timeline cards are you referring to the Acts & Facts History cards? Also, have you used any of the IEW with your kids?
Kerri, I am using the Veritas Press timeline cards that CC used before developing their own. I have used IEW for many years before trying CC and love many aspects of it. Glad this was helpful info!
Great post! Do you still do CC on your own? I’m considering that for next year. My boys struggle with the classroom environment. They are well behaved, but they just don’t absorb anything in that setting. However, I like that they do presentations in front of a group. Tough call.
I do, April. Have you considered doing a small co-op with another family or two? It’s a great way to give kids presentation experience. We’ve done it for years.
Are the power points cc material or did you make them up? Thanks for the post!
Christi, they are CC materials. I hope that helps!
Hi, Jady. I use the CC PowerPoints at home. That’s a perfect solution for you. I purchased the materials used. If you’re using them at home, there’s no reason to be concerned with using the most up-to-date version. The changes aren’t substantial at all.
This and your “ultimate guide” post are super helpful. Do you have any thoughts on beginning memory work this coming school year (my oldest will be PreK)? I would prefer to wait until I have both a 1st grader and Kindergartener to begin CC memory work at home.
Bethany, I’m so happy these posts were a help. I would definitely wait. There’s no rush at all. Have fun playing with your preschooler! 🙂
What are your future plans regarding the Challenge Programs? I would be interested to hear if you or anyone in this thread does any of the Challenge classes at home. I just finished up my first year of CC, I had all 4 in Foundations, 2 in Essentials. initially, I thought CC community was so wonderful, but as the months flew by I began to think otherwise. While I still love the content, I am less in love with the community aspect.
Hi! I don’t use CC beyond Foundations. I teach writing and literature in our small co-op and we do other co-op activities, so I don’t feel the need. You can definitely create your own upper level classes for your own kids or to do with other families. I hope that helps!
You have to be registered in a community in order to get the Challenge curriculum. You also have to be registered to get the Essentials curriculum. It would really be a shame to go through the Foundation years to only leave the program and not see the end results. So sorry you had a bad experience with your community. I luv ours and couldn’t do CC without it!
I had to put my daughter in the
Public school while dealing with a divorce and me having to work. I have all the c.c. material except for cycle 3 CD. I’m hoping to go back to homeschooling this fall, my oldest will be in the second grade, my youngest 4. I’m trying to see how I can make this all work. We use the CD in my van often. They love it. Do you think it’s weird to incorporate cc along with the Public school education?
Alicia, on the contrary, I think it’s a wonderful idea for parents to use CC, regardless of how their kids are being educated. You’re doing a great job!
Definitely, Alana. You review frequently and then when you learn material in depth at a later time, it just clicks. This is especially true for learning the timeline. It’s helped ME tremendously!
The community you would be in should have child care for the younger siblings and a newborn can go into class with you.
If you are interested in doing CC please check the website and go to a Practicum that is in your area. Local communities will also be having info meetings through the summer. This is an AMAZING curriculum!! We have been in it 4 years and just LOVE it!!
Why have I never thought of this? Brilliant! I have the same reasons you do (especially the time one). I’m going to look for this used.
That’s great, Dachelle! I hope you enjoy it like we have.
I have been searching the web for just this information. Thank you! Would you be willing to expand on what materials I need to purchase from CC in order to do their memory work? I know about the CD, but I see there’s also a “Foundations Guide”. Do I need both those things (for younger kids)? more? less?
The guide is a nice list of all the information you’re having your kids review. But you can get along without it. I hope that helps.