Classical Conversations is a national program designed to equip parents to provide their children with a classical Christian education. It provides a framework for education using the classical tools of learning, focusing on the grammar, dialectic (logic), and rhetorical stages of learning.
Each Classical Conversations community meets at a weekly tutorial for 24 weeks during the school year. All parents participate in the program either as helpers or tutors.
So what does a day in the life of Classical Conversations look like for a K-6 student?
9:00-9:30 Large Group Time & Family Presentation
9:30-10:00 New Grammar Introduced (Science, History, Latin, English, Time Line, Geography, Math)
10:00-10:30 Science Experiments or Projects
10:30-11:00 Student Presentations
11:00-11:30 Fine Arts
11:30-12:00 Grammar Review
During the morning classes, the tutor introduces new memory work in timeline, history, Latin, English grammar, geography, science and math. A variety of multi-sensory techniques (kinesthetic, auditory, visual) are used to help students of all learning types. In other words, we have FUN while we’re learning new material!
|Memory masters class learning U.S. Presidents|
|Apprentice class (age 6-7) learning new history sentence|
After new memory work is introduced, we go to another area to conduct science experiments or projects. During this time, you might find us constructing bridges with straws,
or going outside to make a sun print,
or learning about heat transfer by conducting a simple experiment,
or watching demonstrations performed by a parent or tutor.
(Science experiments for Classical Conversations Foundations classes are taken from Janice VanCleave’s 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, & Incredible Experiments.)
Then we go back to our rooms for individual oral presentations to learn public speaking skills. For the younger classes, this is simply “show-and-tell,” whereas older students learn more formal presentation skills.
|Presentation on numbers 1-10.|
|Classmates enjoy a snack during presentations|
Then we dive into Fine Arts, which cycles through four topics over the course of the year:
1. Drawing Techniques
|Completed by first year Foundations student (age 7)|
2. Music Theory & Practice (with Tin Whistle)
|Abecedarian students (age 4-5) learning the Treble Clef|
3. Great Artists
|Using the techniques of Degas to create a chalk painting|
4. Orchestra & Composers
|Students learning about orchestra|
After Fine Arts, we review the grammar that has been previously introduced using games and other activities.
|Reviewing memory work using red-light green-light.|
Memory masters reviewing geography using a coded legend:
Cycle 1: Ancient through Modern World History; Geography of Africa and the World; Biology & Earth Science; Verbs & Prepositions; Latin noun endings; Exodus 20; Renaissance & Post Renaissance Artists; Baroque & Classical Composers
Cycle 2: World history from pre-reformation to modern; European and World Geography; Ecology, Astronomy, and Physical Science; Pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions; Latin verb endings; Ephesians 6; Impressionist Artists; Classical & Romantic Composers
Cycle 3: U.S. History & Geography; Anatomy and Chemistry; Participles, verb tenses, & clauses; John 1:1-7 and corresponding Latin translation; American masters artists; Romantic and Modern Composers
Across the nation, each Classical Conversations Foundations tutorial studies the same cycle of material for all grades (K-6), with Cycle 2 material studied during the 2010-2011 school year. Homeschool families with more than one child really enjoy being able to study the same material with all children!
During the grammar stage (K-6), students cycle through all of the material at least two times. For example, a child in First Grade during the 2010-2011 school year will repeat Cycle 2 material again in Fourth Grade. The emphasis during the grammar stage is memorization of key facts before advancing into the dialectic stage of learning where debate and logic are used to assimilate and analyze the information they have previously memorized.
At the close of each year, students have the opportunity to earn the official Memory Master title for the current cycle. Students who become Memory Masters can recite times tables to the 15s, cubes, squares, unit conversions, geometric formulas, and algebraic laws, 160 timeline facts in order, the 44 U.S. Presidents in order, 24 history sentences, 24 science facts, 24 English grammar lists and/or definitions, 120 geographical locations/features, and Latin words or endings. Each cycle, we memorize over 400 pieces of information!
Is memorizing worth it?
Imagine the surprise when you or your child recognizes an explorer’s name or an historical event while at the museum, or a fact that is mentioned in a Presidential speech, or a geographical location while listening to the news. It has made life more engaging and meaningful for our family to know about the world around us and to discover more about God’s creation as we strive to know Him and make Him known.
What else does Classical Conversations offer?
For grades 4th-6th, Classical Conversations builds upon the Foundations program by offering an Essentials program, which is used in conjunction with Institute for Excellence in Writing to provide a rigorous upper-elementary language arts program. Meeting in the afternoons following Foundations classes, a trained tutor helps strengthen the “essential” subjects of language arts and structure, writing and arithmetic. With a focus on the history & geography learned in Foundations, students learn how to organize their writing and employ stylistic techniques, building upon a firm foundation of memorized vocabulary, rules, and lists from The Essentials of the English Language (EEL) Guide. The unique EEL approach takes students beyond “the worksheet” and the ubiquitous fill-in-the-blank method. The writing portion of Essentials is based on the method of the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) by Andrew Pudewa and makes writing not only possible, but enjoyable for new writers. Click here to learn more about the Essentials Program, or click here for an Essentials informational flyer.
The Classical Conversations Challenge program provides Classical Christian community for home school families with students in grades 7th-9th. The Challenge Program meets once a week for fifteen weeks in the fall and fifteen weeks in the winter/spring months. Challenge A/B curriculum includes Saxon Math 8/7 or Algebra 1/2, Geography, Newbery Award Literature, Lost Tools of Writing, Clear Reasoning with It Couldn’t Just Happen, and Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door, Nature Study (Fall Semester), Biology (Spring Semester), Mock Trial (8th Grade), Formal Logic (8th grade), and Latin. This curriculum is led in a weekly classroom time with a trained Challenge Director/Tutor. Click here to learn more about the Challenge Program, or click here for an information flyer.Challenge I-IV
Our Challenge I program provides Classical Christian community for home school families with students in grades 9th-12th. The Challenge Program meets once a week for fifteen weeks in the fall and fifteen weeks in the winter/spring months. Challenge I curriculum includes Saxon Algebra I, Apologia Physical Science, American Literature, Debate, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (Drama), American Government, Economics, and Latin. Students develop and strengthen the life-long learning skills of grammar, exposition, debate, logic, rhetoric, and research. This curriculum is led in a weekly classroom time with a trained Challenge Director/Tutor.Many parents feel inadequate to home school their students through the high school years. Challenge programs can help by modeling how to school with confidence during these very important years. Being involved in the Challenge program also helps direct you through your transcript and college preparation needs, by keeping you well-informed and providing the tools you need for your record keeping. Click here to learn more about the Challenge Program.