Classical Conversations surveyed other Classical Conversations homeschoolers and asked them for advice to pass on to first year Classical Conversations families. Their answers will not be surprising to those in the program, but may be surprising to new families. They break down into essentially three categories: embrace the repetition, be a learner yourself, and trust the Classical Conversations system.
The first bit of advice for a first year Classical Conversations family is to embrace the repetition. The very nature of memorization is that it requires duration, intensity, and repetition. Classical Conversations has designed the Foundations program to use duration, intensity, and repetition in the teaching of our children. This enables the children to grasp facts quickly, but also to remember the information for the long-term. I am a Challenge III tutor. Some of my students started the program with Foundations, others joined in Challenge A or in I. In week two of Challenge III, we had to memorize the presidents; my students with a Foundations background already knew them, even though they had not practiced them since their last year of Foundations. My non-Foundations students crammed the names of the presidents into their memories in the week before week two, recited them, and by week eleven have already forgotten them. Our surveyors concur: Jennifer says, “Don’t try to do everything at once. It is repetitive for a reason.” Another, Michele, says, “What I love is knowing that if I don’t get to every subject every week in the way I would like, we’ll get to it in three years. [Students] are learning more than you think.” Another, Sarah, advises, “Play the CDs in the car a few times a week…[students will] remember the memory work and it won’t take away from additional work at home.” And Avery warns, “Relax. If your child doesn’t make Memory Master, he or she will have still learned way more than without CC.”
The second bit of advice offered to the first year Classical Conversations family is to be a learner yourself. I recently interviewed the author of Norms and Nobility, David Hicks, on Leigh! @Lunch (Leigh Bortins’ Internet radio show). Hicks offers this advice, “Don’t think of yourself as the teacher, think of yourself as the leading learner.” Homeschooling parents, statistically, are more likely to give up homeschooling when the subject matter becomes more difficult than they can remember from their own education. If you think of yourself as the teacher, then you are more prone to such a response. If, however, you think of yourself as the leading learner, then this response becomes impossible, as you will expect yourself to learn the new, more difficult material with them. This has the added benefit of modeling to your children that your expectation that they will learn is consistent with your own inclination to learn. Classical Conversations Mom, Jennifer, adds, “Remember that it isn’t about the CONTENT—it is about learning to learn—and being in relationship with your child is the most important thing.” Kristin advises, “Learn and understand what the classical model IS—whether you’re starting in Foundations, Essentials, or Challenge. The CC program will help in ALL areas as well as give you the chance to observe the “classical model” in action. Enjoy God’s gift of your own children each and every day!”
Finally, Classical Conversations homeschooling parents encourage you to trust the Classical Conversations’ system. This is not to say that you ultimately do not know what is best for your children, you do! But, the Classical Conversations system was designed by a homeschooling mother of four, Leigh Bortins, and has been tried and tested by tens of thousands of parents, and by almost one hundred thousand different children over the last fifteen years and from all across the country. We have had students graduate and attend all kinds of colleges and universities, including Clemson, Duke, Patrick Henry, St. John’s, Virginia Tech, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Classical Conversations Mom, Anne, commends, “CC will enable you to become a much better homeschooler!” Kelly adds, “Even if you don’t like something right off, stick with it. You may see the reason before the year is up.” Alissa encourages, “My advice would be to trust the CC system. It works amazingly well without mom having to spin her wheels and ‘perfect’ it. I would echo the advice not to add in very much extra.” Laura offers, “I’ve been reminded lately that it is a multi-year program for a reason and that relieves a lot of pressure!” And finally, Sally adds, “Don’t try to add on a lot of other stuff. Make CC the core of your curriculum.”
Do not listen to me. Listen to the Classical Conversations parents and the advice they have to offer. You will be more successful, and your children with you, if you embrace the repetition, be a learner yourself, and trust the Classical Conversations system. Follow their advice, and your homeschooling experience will be more enjoyable, your commitment to it will be more lasting, and your children will come out all the better. Start the New Year and your new semester with this advice for Classical Conversations homeschoolers from Classical Conversations homeschoolers.