What is Classical Conversations? Part One: Overview and Foundations

Posted on Dec 6 2015 - 10:24pm by jennynweston

We have been a part of a local Classical Conversations community for the past six years. It has greatly helped not only in classically educating our children, but also in providing for us a community of support in our homeschool journey.

Classical Conversations equips parents to teach their children using the Christian, Classical model of education. They do this by providing programs at the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric levels in local communities. If you missed my post explaining these terms and Classical education as a whole, click here.

The Foundations Program is designed for Pre-K (4 years old) – 6th grade students. Foundations parents and children gather once a week for twenty-four weeks to practice the classical grammar skills. They learn how to memorize new grammar facts in history, science, English, math, geography, and Latin. Remember, kids at this age love learning and memorizing new information. So Classical Conversations (CC) capitalizes on this by giving a lot of great information to memorize that they will use as they go further in the program.

Can you imagine your elementary child working on memorizing…

  • 161 events and people in a chronological timeline of history
  • 24 history sentences – like the Preamble and the Bill of Rights
  • All U.S. presidents
  • 120 locations and geographic features
  • 24 science facts – like the first 12 elements of the periodic table and parts of various body systems, parts of the respiratory system, digestive system, etc.
  • Latin rules and vocabulary – including quoting John 1 in Latin & English
  • English grammar facts – including the principle parts of irregular verbs and other facts
  • ¬†Several math facts – including multiplication tables up to 15×15, common squares and cubes, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

And that’s just one year! Now multiply that by three cycles over three years, and your student (and you) are memorizing a LOT of information. Does it seem impossible to memorize that amount of information? I promise it’s not! My fifth grade daughter has successfully memorized ALL of that information with 100% accuracy!

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The great part is that the students and parents really enjoy learning these facts. The tutors (parents are the teachers, so the leaders of the classes are called tutors) introduce the information in various ways. The history sentence may be set to a song with hand motions, they may do jumping jacks while they are skip counting, or they may have a mnemonic to remember their science fact.

IMG_4758IMG_4701In addition to introducing the new memorization facts each week, during their Foundations community day, students will complete a science experiment while focusing on how to use of the scientific method.

They will also engage in a fine arts component, rotating every six weeks between the following:

  1. How to draw
  2. Tin whistle and music theory
  3. Famous artists and art projects in that artist’s style
  4. Composers and orchestra

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All of this is wonderful, but my favorite part of the day is the student presentations. Each week students practice getting up to present on a topic in front of their peers. I love watching the children grow in this throughout the year. Inevitably, the little boy or girl who is shy and scared to speak at the beginning of the year is thriving in their skills by the end of the year (and often within just a few weeks)!

Finally, the tutors model ideas for the parents of how to review the information with their children at home using games. This helps parents keep their own homeschooling fresh and exciting. We may be memorizing, but we like to make it fun!

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Sound great? It is! Click here to learn more about Classical Conversations and to find a local community. Stay tuned for What is Classical Conversations? Part Two: Essentials.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments below. As always, I don’t share anything on this blog that I don’t know and love. All opinions are my own.

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