Three Years In || Our Homeschooling Approach
Wow! Three years of homeschooling! I really can't believe how quickly the time has gone by! And how my fears of being able to teach my own have gone too.
4 years ago, when the idea of homeschooling first started rolling around in my head, it felt like a Mt. Everest. Something that was impossible. That would be too difficult. We'd hate each other by the end of the day... All the thoughts of "I can't because..." were rolling around in my head.
We live in a really large homeschooling community, so I had had the opportunity to observe first hand many different styles and approaches to homeshooling. However, the one that stood out to me the most, the one that IF I were to homeschool I would consider, was Classical Conversations. It had been growing like a wild fire (and still is) throughout our area and really intrigued me. I knew that if I were to pursue homeschooling, I would want to be a part of a homeschool community.
That Classical Conversations approach stems from the classical model of education, yet centers all education around God: Math, History, Science, Foreign Language etc. This approach also teaches children HOW to learn and teach themselves, not WHAT to learn and know. To learn more about the Classical Christian model of education, click here.
In the early Foundation stages (ages 4-12) children are sponges and capable of memorizing a great deal of information. With Classical Conversations, students have weekly memory work where they practice, learn, and memorize the following:
- History Sentences
- History Timeline
- Math Facts
- Public Speaking/Weekly Presentations
During the early years, young children will not fully understand everything they are memorizing, but we look at this as pegs of learning or learning blocks we place in their memory bank to draw from later. As they get older, these pegs of learning are expounded upon in greater lengths and detail. These early years are building a FOUNDATION of learning.
During the Grammer stage (ages 9-12) students (and parents, because we are learning and absorbing just as much as our kids) learn the Essentials of the English language. This critical stage teaches students the following, which can also be found on the Classical Conversations website:
- Capitalization and punctuation
- Eight parts of speech
- 112 sentence patterns
- Sentence diagramming
- How to analyze sentences by purpose, structure, patterns, and speech parts
- Writing structure and style through Institute for Excellence in Writing
- How to research, write a thesis, and a full research paper
- Greater speed and accuracy in multiplication facts.
These essential stages creates a solid foundation for students to learn HOW to learn vs. WHAT to learn. It prepares them to take ANY subject or topic and teach themselves. A valuable tool in life.
At age 12+ students move into the Challenge program. The Challenge program has 6 different levels where dialectic and rhetorical skills are put into practice. I look at the Challenge program as college prep courses, which I very much look forward to! Read more about each individual level here because my brief description does NOT do it justice!
One of the BIGGEST things I am so grateful for when it comes to homeschooling is COMMUNITY. Knowing that we are not doing this alone but build relationships that encourage, strengthen, and cheer us on during the difficult moments and celebratory moments is what it is all about. I could not be more grateful for our homeschool community.
If you are just at the beginning of looking into Classical Conversation or homeschooling in general, please do not let this post stress you out or think, "there's no way I could do that!" Each step builds upon itself.
Classical Conversations reminds me of a mosaic. When all of the pieces are in a pile, it is hard to see the masterpiece that it is until you step back and see the completed piece of art, which is truly breathtaking.
It still boggles my mind that we are finishing our third year of homeschooling. When the idea first came into my mind, I thought I was insane. It was NEVER my plan. But now, looking back at all of the amazing discoveries, conversations, growth, "ah-ha" moments I have had the privilege to witness, I am grateful I did not allow fear to stop me.
Our days still ebb and flow. We have structured flexibility within our days, of which I will share in another post. But most of all, I am grateful for the solid program of Classical Conversations! My daughter and I (and soon my son as well) are BOTH learning.
I do not think that homeschooling is the be-all-end-all way to educate. However, it is the direction we have chosen to go as a family. I am grateful for it and fully embrace it. It is also amazing to look back and see how God orchestrated, guided, and directed us to this place of homeschooling. Because without God's divine direction, it would not have happened.