When our family stumbled upon Classical Conversations eight years ago, I didn’t have any idea what I was signing up for but knew I needed something to help me! At the time, I had a daughter entering sixth grade and a son entering third grade, and we had just experienced one year of homeschooling without Classical Conversations.
Some readers may wonder, as I did at first, “What is Classical Conversations?” Turning to the dictionary was helpful. The word classical could mean many different things. Using the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, classical is first defined as a standard. Standard is defined as “a structure built for or serving as a base or support.” Further, the word conversation is more familiar to most of us and can be defined as “an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people.”
When we began in Foundations, the program designed for younger children in Classical Conversations, I confess I didn’t see the conversations that were described in the title of this program. There was a lot of memorizing and recitation, but dialogue and discussion was not what I witnessed. It was difficult at times to remain faithful to the process, and I questioned if I would ever see this wonderful conversation that I heard so much about.
I heard it said that Classical Conversations doesn’t truly begin until Challenge I, and I questioned that statement for years wondering, then what am I doing in Foundations and Essentials? What a silly statement; that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have, however, personally witnessed in both of my children a transformation in the second half of the Challenge I year.
My daughter has completed her journey from Challenge A to Challenge IV, and my son only has a few years left. Even though both my children are completely opposite in every way, this curriculum has met each of them where they are. As a parent, I have been able see how Classical Conversations is organically structured to nurture students in the natural stages of learning. As their minds develop, it creates the perfect environment to seek out the true, the good, and the beautiful.
All the information that had been absorbed in Foundations through memorization and recitation was being sorted through and questioned and beautiful, rich conversations began to happen. I now understand that during those early years the base was being built for a stunning structure. Proverbs 24:3-4 declares, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (NIV). The standard so mysteriously imbedded in the daily assignments of this rigorous curriculum is how to learn, how to think, and how to reason, and it has borne a rich fruit.
Because both my children have completed Challenge I, I am now experiencing the beautiful conversations that I previously had only heard about. The scripture in Hebrews 11:1 reminds me of a promise that has been personally fulfilled in my journey of homeschooling: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (NIV). What I hoped for was to have children who loved God with all their heart, all their mind, all their soul, and all their strength. I longed to be able to have rich conversations discovering God in all things. This program has proven that for us, and I know that it will prove itself to those who have the faith to jump in and experience it for themselves.