Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Farewell to Classical Conversations

     To CC or not to CC.  That is the question.

     The answer is not.

     We will not be returning to the Classical Conversations, Foundations Program.  This was not an easy decision to come to.  Even writing this post isn't easy.  Classical Conversations is what God used to open the door to homeschooling for us.  It opened our eyes to books like The Well-Trained Mind and The Core.  I met my best friend there.  I enjoyed tutoring this past year.  I agonized over this decision for a few months.  I prayed about it and it was clear that I wasn't suppose to tutor in the Fall, but the decision to completely stop going to CC wasn't so clear.

     Until now.

     I happened upon a few homeschool blogs, one of which was brought up as an actual CC resource during my tutor training last year, who started out in CC but then stopped going.  Their reasons resonated with me; I wasn't the only one who felt this way and it told me it was okay to walk away.  

     Don't get me wrong.  We love the friends we've made in our CC community and we like Classical Education, but Classical Conversations is no longer for us for many reasons.  These are my personal observations and opinions about CC.  It doesn't mean that CC isn't for you or that we won't go back to it.  It's just not for us this coming year and here's why:

      Expense.  We have financial goals and I couldn't justify the price.  Yes, it's still much less than private school, but at roughly $1000.00 for both my kids, not including any CC supplies or supplements they might need, it added up.  Moreover, while my kids did the memory work, notebooking pages, activities and readings tied to the the corresponding CC facts, they were bored.  Frankly, they enjoyed the Language Arts and Math programs (an additional expense) I purchased for them more than the CC stuff, silly songs aside.  What my kids liked about CC this year was that I was their tutor!  We all love the Timeline song and History sentence songs, but I don't need to take a day from our week to have them learn those things.  That's money that could be better spent elsewhere or, in our case, to help us reach our goals.  Toward the end,  I felt like I was paying for them to socialize.  Which brings me to my next reason.

     Socialization.  Our community is full but is still growing.  However, for both my sprouts, there weren't many kids to bond with.  Let me rephrase that...there weren't many girls my daughter's age that she could connect with.  Our community had A LOT of boys and while you may think that's great for my son, well, my son's syndrome and age made it difficult for him to connect with anyone as well.  This may be the case where ever we go because of his syndrome, but in this particular community there weren't many boys for him to model and look up to.  Some of the boys were just mean.  That's the only way I can say it; mean for no reason.  I know boys will be boys but it doesn't call for personal attacks, which I observed a few times over the course of our enrollment.  I know not every CC community is like that.  This just did not sit well with me.

     It's too fast.  As I mentioned before, Foundations meets once a week for 24 weeks and every week the kids are introduced to new facts, covering 6 subjects.  One week did not give my kids enough time to really dig deeper into that week's History (or Science) fact before learning the next fact the following week.  (The History sentences were what I built our curriculum on this year.)  Yes, there were still 12 more weeks (in our state) to research and read more, but by the end of the 24 CC weeks it didn't make sense for me to go back after we had already moved on.  Sure, I could have purchased a full curriculum like I did the first year I homeschooled my daughter and then just let the CC stuff somehow make its way into the curriculum or let it be something they did on the side, but then it would be an added expense.  Remember, we have financial goals!

     CC uses 3 Cycles.  If you've ever read The Well-Trained Mind (you should if you haven't, homeschooler or not) you'd know that she suggests that your curriculum be based on History/Geography which cycle every 4 years starting from Ancient History ending in Modern Times.  The fact that CC is 3 cycles drove me nuts which is why this year I decided to create my own curriculum.  The 3 cycles wouldn't line up with any of the great Classical Christian curriculum out there and if it did happen to line up, it wasn't age appropriate for my daughter.  Almost all the Christian curriculum out there run in 4 cycles.  It was maddening I tell ya.  Maddening!

     We lost a day.  While CC only meets one day a week for 3 hours, that wasn't necessarily the end of the day.  While we enjoyed hanging with our friends at the park after class, by the time we got home the day was pretty much over and there was no real school work done.  At this point, I'd rather lose a day of completed school work to a field trip or spontaneous play date (or a doctor's appointment which is common since my have special but different needs.)

     Above all this:

      My kids have special, but different needs.  Some of you reading this may or may not know this.  Very rarely do I share what is going on behind the scenes with the challenges both of my kids face, not because I'm embarrassed or ashamed, but because it doesn't matter.  It is what it is and homeschooling is a blessing that allows me to work together with them to address those issues.  I'll share if I've found something that made a significant difference in our homeschool, especially for my son, but otherwise I like to focus on the fun, learning stuff!  Now, back to those challenges behind the scenes...there are things that I have to address on a daily basis and attending our weekly CC meetings gets in the way of that.  'Nuff said.

     Finally, I can provide a Classical Christian Education for my children.  I am their teacher.  I am responsible for learning the techniques and tools to teach them classically and then do it.  Many have done it before and without Classical Conversations.  Does this mean we'll never go back?  No.  Things change, but for now, bidding farewell to CC is what is right for us.

     Our new school year is set and planned.  I'll share our "Box Day" post in a couple of weeks once everything comes in.

     For other perspectives on leaving CC (and what they're up to now) take a look at A Nurse's Wildflowers, Nurturing Learning and The Accidental Homeschooler.

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