First, let me say that I am not a Classical Conversations® (or classical education) expert. I am just a mom who completely believes in the mission, model and method of Classical Conversations®. Leigh Bortins (along with a whole bunch of other people who have paved the way!) inspires and equips me to provide my children with a quality education - the education I wish I'd had myself when I was younger. Now I am restoring two generations of education as I teach my own children.
For those who are not familiar with Classical Conversations®, click here for a description of what a day in the life of a Foundations community looks like. The Classical Conversations® 2014 Catalog includes thorough descriptions of classical education and Classical Conversations®. This is my absolute favorite catalog. I refer to it about a thousand times per year. Visit ClassicalConversations.com to download or order a copy.
Before I mention some similarities I see between Classical Conversations and Well-Trained Mind, there is a significant difference between the two, especially as you enter the dialectic and rhetoric stages of learning. The mission of Classical Conversations is "To know God and make Him known." The mission of Well-Trained Mind is to develop a well-trained mind. Classical Conversations provides a Classical, Christian Education in which all subjects are interrelated and point back to God, as He is the Creator of all subjects. You can read more about a Classical, Christian Education here.
For a thorough comparison between the two programs (well, between The Core and The Well-Trained Mind), visit Melody's article CC and The Well-Trained Mind at And Here We Go!
In this post, I am specifically comparing Classical Conversations to Well-Trained Mind at the grammar stage (preschool to grade 6).
For Foundations students, the Classical Conversations® 2014 Catalog states the following:
"During the Foundations program, students will focus on building a core body of knowledge to build on later studies. At home, Foundations parents can supplement their daily practice of the memory work with the following:
- Daily math lessons
- Daily math drill
- Daily reading including read alouds, phonics studies, and independent reading
- Weekly spelling practice
- Additional history and science studies
- Young children should practice copying a sentence every day while older children can practice copying paragraphs. This develops the discipline in writing and prepares students for their own original writing.
With that, let's revisit the Well-Trained Mind schedule for younger Foundations students...
What's the same? Math, reading, spelling, history, science, and writing/copywork
- First, the Well-Trained Mind is a suggested course of work for parents/students who are not participating in a classical education community.
- The Well-Trained Mind offers a suggested timeframe for doing each activity, but because it is only a guideline, you should adjust the times to fit your own needs.
- The Well-Trained Mind offers suggestions for notebooking and how to do it if you are unfamiliar with notebooking. Notebooking can take the form of narration, dictation, and copywork.
- Religion is something that comes up throughout all the subjects, so we as Classical Conversations® parents are not limited by the 15 minutes suggested for the formal study of religion/Bible.
- Art and music are fine arts subjects that Classical Conversations® communities rotate through every six weeks. The addition of Prescripts for extra drawing/art practice and listening to classical music would fill out the rest of the suggested WTM schedule.
- Note that the majority of the time suggested in the WTM schedule is for reading. Also note that I do not follow this strict schedule in our own homeschool. I've been told that not even Susan Wise Bauer follows this strict schedule!
- Both emphasize lots and lots and lots of reading
Now… on to a specific breakdown for students in 4th grade who are enrolled in the Classical Conversations® Essentials Program:
Download a pdf of the above schedule here.
For the WTM schedules for other grade levels, visit Revisiting Plans and Schedules with the Well-Trained Mind.
Essentials is rigorous and thorough. If you back off from planning too much those first six weeks especially, you will likely thank yourself for being so wise.
Although it is not required by Classical Conversations® they've suggested that parents introduce a simple Latin program (like Song School Latin) by 4th grade. [I've also been told by many Challenge parents that it is beneficial to introduce more Latin vocabulary during the Foundations years.]
This again is my own personal interpretation, but I just wanted Classical Conversations parents to know that Leigh Bortins has structured Classical Conversations® to provide a quality, classical Christian education to children and their parents. You need not concern yourself too much about whether you're doing enough. Provide your children with a literature-rich environment in the Foundations years and teach them how to write via copywork and dictation. Essentials will prepare your child for Challenge. And Challenge will prepare them for the world that is set before them when they graduate from high school.
To find out more about our own experiences in Essentials, visit our Essentials posts.
Please feel free to ask questions! Many times the questions I receive spur me on to better explain myself. I enjoy the questions, as they help me learn how to articulate my thoughts better. (And boy! Do I have a whole bunch of room for improvement in that area!)