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Classical Education-We’re hooked

I never heard of homeschooling until I came to the States at age 16. (it’s illegal in Germany) The whole concept sounded weird, didn’t help some homeschool folks I met seemed a bit odd. Nevertheless I was intrigued by this level of educational freedom. East Germany only had one educational option: public school, which fervidly pushed communist propaganda along with academics. My first grade teacher was a drill sergeant with a penchant for long discourses on discipline while we sat with arms tucked behind our chairs. I liked school though- didn’t know a gentler way to be taught.

Jaden started Kindergarten 4 years ago at our local public school. Previously an enthusiastic learner he quickly lost interest in school, labeling it as ‘boring, dumb, stupid’. Bummer if you feel that way in Kindergarten, I thought. He begged me to homeschool him. I reluctantly agreed and we finished the school year at home. It was hard to juggle his needs along with a two year old and baby and working part time. The following year he started first grade at a private christian school. He transitioned well and loved school again.

Last year I decided to homeschool Lena for Kindergarten. While deciding on a curriculum I ran into a friend at the park who would be a tutor for Classical Conversations (CC) in the fall. I had heard good things about Classical Conversations but the group closest to us met on mondays- my work day. Her group, a little further away, met thursdays and we joined at last minute.

I read “The well trained mind” a couple years ago which is a great introduction to classical education at home. Classical education according to “The well trained mind” is a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. The classical model of education has been around for centuries and great thinkers and leaders like Aristotle, Plato, C.S. Lewis, and Thomas Jefferson were educated in this way.

Classical education has become popular along with homeschooling in the last couple of decades. Classical conversations is a christian organization that supports families by providing resources and offering local community groups for a once a week classroom experience as well as social connection. Weekly class time introduces and reviews memory work in 6 subjects: history, geography, english, latin, math and science. It also includes either a science experiment, art project or musical instructions. Another part of weekly school time is giving a presentation- standing up in front of the class (typically 8 students) and talk about a predetermined subject. Lena hated this part and refused to participate initially. We just finished her school year and giving a presentation is now her most favorite part. I am amazed at how much she has grown this last year- mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Sometimes a least planned, almost accidental next step becomes a most pivotal point in our journey. I was a bit skeptical at the beginning of the year. Would the girls embrace subject matter completely out of their realm of princesses, ballerina’s and fairies? Turns out they love it. Sadie (3) loves latin, has memorized all the presidents and randomly bellows historical facts or the bill of rights. Lena loves singing the time-line of the world- 164 important historical events we memorized this year. I love having some structure and organization to our home education as well as room for our own learning experiences. CC is superfood for growing brains, surprisingly fun and a wonderful connection for weary mama’s.

We are hooked on CC and will be back next school year- all three kids.


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11 Replies

  1. Hi Astrid. I’m visiting from #RaRaLinkup. I’m a classical home schooler too. My only regret is that I didn’t do Latin until 8th grade…My kids followed the Well-Trained Mind curriculum through Junior High, but in high school we’ve deviated a bit to follow Sonlight’s program. Happy home schooling. I’m on the other end. One graduating this May!

    1. Astrid Melton

      cool-it’s so fun. Latin is my 3 year olds favorite subject. This year we memorized John 1:1-7 in english and latin. My kids also speak german and they loved how “Johannes” is the same in german and latin.

  2. Great ! I’m going to share this!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks, Voni.

  3. Hi Astrid! CC is a wonderful program from what many of my homeschooling friends say. We homeschooled our three children with an eclectic, Christian flair for eight years, but never tried CC. Sounds like it is a winner in your house. Praise God. Visting via #RaRaLinkup.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Cool. It’s a fun way to bond with your kids- extra time you likely won’t regret spending as I always hear they grow up too fast 🙂

  4. Tara

    Nice! Mr. J too? 🙂 That’s exciting!

    We’re enrolled for the fall too. In a few weeks I’ll be attending the practicum here while Jovie gets her first taste with the day camp program. I’m really excited about many of the aspects of it.

    Once I finally got the right contact info for our local group, it turns out they’re very organized and have one of the largest groups in the state. I loved who and what I saw at the info meeting.

    It’ll be nice to have more community, support and accountability in the homeschooling journey. I’m probably most looking forward to learning the material myself. 🙂 So many things I never committed to memory in school that would be nice to have stored away.

    It’ll be fun to have the girls learning the same material at the same time. Good times!

    1. Astrid Melton

      cool- I am so happy. Yes- J loves CC and has been asking to join and it’s a way to simplify our schedule. He came 3x w/ us this year and it’s actually a great fit for his learning style- auditory learner with strong interest in historical narrative. He will also do the essentials program which starts in 4th grade and focuses on writing. Our group switched to mondays so I had to switch my work schedule- will have to work fridays now which actually works out because I am also enrolling him in the Masters School of Art which is all day friday. Lena will be so excited to have her cousin in CC- she totally loves it. I have enjoyed learning stuff this year too. Certainly helped w/ my citizenship test.

      1. Tara

        Had never heard of Masters School of Art but I just looked it up and it sounds very cool. I see they even have a Salem satellite program so maybe we’ll have to look into it at some point. Oooh, Essentials! The mysterious next step. LOL. Can’t wait to see how it goes.

        We’re also registered for Family Camp. So hopefully we’ll get a little more cousin time in this summer.

        1. Astrid Melton

          I have heard great thing about it- you have to be 9 though to start. Lena just had her year end program and the essential students read their papers and I was highly impressed. Hooray for camp!

  5. Great job Astrid! What an exciting journey. I am so proud of you for venturing into this. You are such a blessing to your children. Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.

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