Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Preparing for Classical Conversations Cycle 1

So, the summer continues to fly quickly by (as summers are known to do). We've had dance recitals, visits with family, a few hikes through canyons and creek beds, chances to chase fireflies, fireworks (in spite of the drought), cool-offs at the Splash Pad, swim meets, and more. Oh, the sweet blessings of summer.

At the same time, I often feel like there aren't enough hours in a day to plan for our coming school year. Then again, it seems there is oddly little planning I can actually do because our new Classical Conversations venture must, to some extent, simply unfold. I'm trying not to worry too much (as if I'd have any real clue of what specifically to worry about). It's just that I'm so used to planning out our year, hour by hour, day by day, week by week. But this year must simply unfold a bit first.

So, what have I been able to do to prepare? Well, in late June, I attended the 3-day parent Practicum organized by Classical Conversations. Oh my word, I was so inspired, challenged in my thinking, and enlightened. Inspired that the classical model will be good (no, great!) for my children. We have incorporated classical elements into our homeschool learning for years, but I'm excited to make it our main focus moving forward.(I'd be here all day if I ventured into my convictions.) Challenged by parents who in turn challenge their children to their fullest potential. No backing down or "watering down" the hard work of,...well disciplined, hard work. And oh, the amazing things their students are able to accomplish when the bar is raised. (They in fact demonstrated the result of their year-long CC work for us.) Enlightened to the model and method of Classical Conversations as it relates to a classical education.

My oldest daughter will enter the Challenge program without the benefit of Foundations or Essentials. This summer, she has been listening to the Foundations Latin memory work on her mp3, and has been doing daily drills and some accelerated math as well. She has also read all the books assigned in her Challenge level for the year, so she will have a first-run familiarity with them before she has to officially read and discuss them in class. I know she will have her work cut out for her in adjusting to her new schooling, but I also think she will be motivated and encouraged by the friendships she'll form with her peers at CC.

My two middle children have been writing out the definitions of the eight parts of speech, as well as the list of prepositions used in CC (thankfully, they're coming off a year of heavy work with prepositions and prepositional phrases, so the list is merely a longer version of one they had previously memorized at home.) They are also continuing with math and daily drills.

My 5 year old has begun his Kindergarten math curriculum (we use Math-U-See), and is doing some light phonics and sounding out C-V-C words. All four are reading at least 30 minutes per day, the middle children read a page out loud to me, and the youngest listens to stories and sounds out some words in the text as we go.

So, what else can I do to prepare? Well, I'm reading Leigh Bortins'The Core, a book I would highly suggest any "homeschooling" parent read. (To be sure, all parents, who take a committed interest in their children's educations, homeschool to some extent, regardless of the schooling option they've chosen.) This book is literally filled with terrific practical suggestions on how to take advantage of the way the brain learns, to challenge our children to their fullest potential in their school work (or after-school work), and on how to make learning a priority in daily life at home.

I'm also tracking down resources to supplement our weekly history and science focus at CC. We already have many on hand (ie. Story of The World volumes and Mystery of History volumes). But we will also fill our book basket with living books from the library so the children can "sample and feast on" a variety of coordinated books each week.

I've already met several wonderful people from our CC community this summer, and have joined a book club based on The Core, to gain insight from others in the group as well. And yet...our new venture must simply begin to unfold.

And so we anticipate as August 20th quickly approaches. Olivia will begin Challenge A on that day. I plan to sit in on her first two weeks, to get a feel for her days so I can better assist her in adjusting at home. After that, my time will be divided to my other children's classrooms as well. Her siblings start 3 weeks later. We've officially made the transition to year-round schooling, so we'll all be busy doing something of educational value in the midst of our waiting.

If you are using Classical Conversations for the coming year, especially if it's your first year, I'd love to hear how your plans are going. Leave me a link in comments and I'll be sure to visit.

Live wise in Him!


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