Classical Conversations programs have given us a much needed method to tackling the idea of classical homeschooling. Are we perfect at it? Oh, far far from it! But the parameters are more than helpful in determining what we will learn and how we will learn it. Not to mention the classical method’s plan to teach students HOW to learn!
This year, I am on my third round in Essentials. My oldest son, Andrew, experienced two years before heading to Challenge, and now his brother, Aaron, is in his second year. While I don’t believe three years are an absolute necessity, I do recommend three years when possible.
I’ve shared what I love about CC in general and about Foundations, so here are my top five favorites about Essentials! I’m going in reverse order, because it’s my blog, and I can. Life is fun outside of the box!
5. Three years of the SAME information, only different writing prompts. I’m reading a book right now, and it’s over my head. I find myself trying desperately to dig deep and glean every possible idea from the book on the first run. What ends up happening though is I’m overwhelmed and put the book down. Essentials begins with the idea that you are to “read the book” three times and take more and more away with you each time. It also give a great boost to returning students each year when they begin the year with material they have a strong grasp of.
4. Diagramming Sentences!! I LOVE doing this. My favorite process however is undiagramming. Give me a diagrammed sentence, and I love to put the pieces back together into a sentence. The systematic approach to diagramming mirrors what we did in Shurley Grammar, and that has helped our boys transition well to Essentials. If you have the time to introduce your pre-Essentials student to Shurley Grammar, I highly recommend it. Once you experience Essentials, you will be able to pass it down to your younger students without a separate curriculum.
3. Learning right next to my student. Directing Foundations and Essentials has me sitting in different classes or sometimes helping in a class that is short on parents during the Foundations hours, so I don’t always see my students. In Essentials, that isn’t the case. I get to sit right next to my son for two hours and hear what he hears, see how he behaves, and learn what he learns. After having two in Essentials last year, I am enjoying this time set aside for just the two of us each week!
2. Students screaming with excitement that it is time for math games. WHAT?????!?!!!!!???!??!?! You read that right. Students SCREAM when they hear our tutor say “Math Time.” Maybe scream is a strong word, but I promise there is usually jumping up and down involved. The games challenge the students’ minds and their math skills in such a fun way that they want to keep playing and keep calculating each week. When we hear it is time to put math away each week, it’s pretty sad.
1.IEW – Institute for Excellence in Writing. This program, by Andrew Pudewa is used by homeschoolers all of the world and by private schools as well. Teaching students skills for writing and parents skills for teaching writing, Mr. Pudewa uses a simple process that introduces one skill at a time. It is a program that is doable for even the most reluctant writer, as long as the parent also pays attention and learns how to help their student. We love our Teaching Writing: Structure and Style book and our Andrew Pudewa DVDs.
I enjoy sharing my favorite things about each of the CC programs. I also like passing along tips. And I have one Essentials tip that I love to pass along to new families.
Essentials EEL TIP: Realize right off the bat that you are not learning brand new parts of speech or brand new sentence structure. My first year, I couldn’t grasp all of the “new” things introduced because I kept trying to figure out how to “add” them to my knowledge and use of speech. Then, I realized in year two that I already use these parts of speech and structures, etc. every day. Essentials is only teaching me the correct way to label them, which leads to the correct usage of them. Once I learned this, I truly began to get more out of the EEL portion of Essentials.
- 10000Once again, let me reiterate - DO NOT be afraid of Essentials. You and your student will learn more than you ever imagined! First, let me give you a great word that our Essentials tutor shared with us. I'm pretty sure he shared it from the first day of the…
- 10000For a moment, I considered titling this blog "Five Reasons You Shouldn't Join Classical Conversations (CC)," but I admire the program too much to disparage it - even in the name of creativity. The reason I considered this is because classical education and CC go against the grain of what…