Classical Conversations

I’m not one for roller coasters.

I hate them actually.  There’s just something about feeling your heart threatening to leave your body via your mouth that leaves me feeling – unsettled, to say the least.  It’s just TOO dramatic for me –  the climbs, the dives, all at break-neck speed – definitely not for me.  I like the security of solid ground, I like to chart my course, and kind of know where it will take me.  I’m much the same way in every aspect of my life. 

From relationships, to homeschooling – I avoid the drama, chart my course and pray for the best.  This year though, our homeschooling was in desperate need for some structure.  My days usually end with me feeling like I spent a whole day wrangling cats and not accomplishing much homeschooling. The Natives are wild, restless and have their own ideas on how to spend their time.    Our Tribal Chief (formerly known as Squinch) is getting older, more curious, and much more into mischief.  Chief loves to exercise his strength and  authority over the Natives and will attack them at whim.  His unpredictability always causes a major disturbance in our school.  The Natives LOVE to wrestle and a challenge from the Chief is never denied.    

My days can quickly spiral out of control, at least that’s how I feel.   I needed help and thought joining a Classical Conversations group would help.  Whoa!  Was I in for a surprise.  We came in 5 weeks late, into Cycle 3 of the Foundations Guide.  Immediatly I realized the intensity of learning that was going on.  I had the immediate sense that I was involved in something I wasn’t going to like.  I felt like I had unintentionally gotten on a roller coaster, with my three little guys in tow, and my heart plummeted.   Had I known the intensity and thoroughness of the program I surely would have shied away from the commitment.  Underestimating us as not “ready” for that level of learning and categorizing us as more “freestyle”, eclectic learners bordering on unschooling with a strong core of Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio Emilia for Chief,  who likes to express himself  artistically. 

I would have suffered through the potpourri of eclectic learning we had going on, endured, and (sadly) threatened the Natives with public education all year.  But I knew we needed something more.  Something cohesive, plus the people in the group were so nice.  I also agreed and believed in their (Classical Conversations) methodology and all the kids seemed to enjoy it.  What amazed me the most was how my boys responded after that first day – they absolutely LOVED it!  The Natives quickly adapted and they IMMEDIATELY started learning the material.  I was hooked.

I committed us for the year with every intention of riding it out.   At first I tried to supplement with the smorgesbourg of curriculums we had going on and that was proving futile.  It all became a mashed mess of  …   frustration.  Plus, the only things they were learning throughout this time were the Classical Conversation pieces.  It is incredible the amount of learning that’s getting done.  This year alone, they’ll be learning all the states and capitals, history facts from 1492 through Sept. 11, 2001.  This does not include the timeline cards (which we’re still warming up to).  They’ll know all the presidents, they’re covering earth science,  geography, English, Math and Fine Arts.  On top of all that they’re learning Latin and are in the process of translating  John 1:1-7 . 

Latin – John Chapter 1:1-7

(taken from The Vulgate)

1:1 in principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum

1:2 hoc erat in principio apud Deum

1:3 omnia per ipsum facta sunt et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est

1:4 in ipso vita erat et vita erat lux hominum

1:5 et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt

1:6 fuit homo missus a Deo cui nomen erat Iohannes

1:7 hic venit in testimonium ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine ut omnes crederent per illum

What I’m most surprised about is that they’re not the only ones learning.  Going through Classical Conversations with them, the holes in my own education are grandiously exposed.  I have no idea how I was able to graduate from highschool without knowing (by heart)  the Bill of Rights, or the Preamble to the US Constitution, or what the Lusitania was and  why it’s important to history.  Right now we’re learning the periodic table – something that I didn’t see until high school the Natives are being exposed to at 11, 7 and 2 – and they’re getting it (except for Chief who has other things on his mind like expressing himself  on a grander scale).

The Natives look forward to their time learning with their CC friends.  I even have SpitFire involved in the IEW course.   I LOVE this class (Spitfire will thank me for this later. ).  Not just for the Trader Joe’s chocolate covered espresso beans one mom brings and shares with the rest of us student/teacher moms to help keep us alert, but because WE are all learning so much!!   Our Essentials Tutor Guide is nothing short of an angel in disguise.  She is a fearless, patient, guide who makes sentence diagramming fun.  Considering the subject she so cheerfully takes on, SpitFire loves being in her class (working on his assignments, that’s another story!  This too I’m sure will work its way out as he gains confidence in his writing abilities).  With her guidance through this wonderful writing program, SpitFire and I executed our first research paper with oral presentation!   

This is an amazing feat for us.  SpitFire is a fierce warrior and once he sets his mind against something, the fight is on.  Getting him to research, read (3 sources!), write, prepare a report (with footnotes!) and an oral presentation about Paul Revere is not something I could have executed as successfully as we did.  

After their hard work and presentations the Revolutionary War Heroes celebrated with cupcakes and drink! 

We are involved with a wonderful group.  With one of the best parts of being on this journey are the other moms who are equally as committed to the process involved in their children’s education.   In the time that we’ve been with the group I realized that our previous arrangement for homeschooling had us on the craziest of roller coasters.  One that lead us to the highs of finding just that right curriculum, to the lows of learning a whole new program to discovering that it doesn’t match my teaching style or their learning style.  Then back on board through the long, slow trek of  searching for yet another curriculum and all its supporting material, getting to the top and then desperately flaying down through the despairs of wasted money on yet another bad fit.  I’m glad to say we’re off that rollercoaster and have found that cohesiveness to our school.  CC has given our education a spine from which we can grow from.  They are learning and having fun!

We are all enjoying our latest adventure with Classical Conversations.  What I thought might have been a nightmare has turned into a HUGE blessing that I believe the Lord led us to.  Though the CC ride is intense, it also provides us the flexibility to do more of the fun homeschooling projects we never had time for before – like making gourd birdhouses!!

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