Why Classical Conversations

Kristen, of Teaching Stars, is spending the week reviewing their homeschool curriculum and I thought I would join in to share what we have loved and what has not worked for us.  I already posted about All About Reading yesterday, before I knew of Kristen’s plan.  Today I am going to review Classical Conversations and what I love and don’t love about it.

Classical Conversations.  We have spent two years in a community.  I have tutored the first half of the year during both years.  We are not going back to the community this year.  Why?  I answered that question quickly in this post, but Kristen asked for more specifics and so here they are.

First, what I love:

I love the idea of memory work…but…I don’t love all of the memory work chosen by CC.

I love the people in our community (and I needed that community two years ago because we had no one to turn to for homeschooling support) …but…I don’t love paying all that money just for community.

I love the fine arts component…but… I don’t love repeating the same few artists and composers every three years when there is such a wealth of them to get to know.

I love the presentations the children have to give every week in front of their peers.

I love the timeline song and the cards to go with it.

I love the math skip counting songs.

What I do not love:

The history memory work.  The sentences, especially in Cycle 1, are not chronological and while I understand that they are grouped geographically, I much prefer a chronological history. Also, some of the sentences just weren’t well worded, especially for Cycle 1.  This year my friend and I have taken the timeline cards and made a three sentence synopsis for each that we hope to have our children memorize instead.  Unfortunately, we can’t share it since the timeline is copyrighted by CC and most of our synopses are straight from the back of the card.

That the memory work, especially history, goes so fast.  A week on Ancient Egypt?  Really?

That the memory work is out of context.  I don’t fully buy into the whole memorize out of context philosophy.  My kids prefer a bit of background info.  But see my previous point on how fast we are forced to go through the memory work and how it doesn’t leave time to delve into a subject the way my kids would like.

Tin whistle.  Cacophony.  Headaches.  I much prefer piano lessons, though I did appreciate the music theory we learned.  Again, though, I wish it weren’t the same thing repeated every year so that the older children could learn a bit more theory than is actually presented.  It’s a good base, though, for the non-musically inclined.

The science “experiments” (except for a few – like the owl pellet).  I felt that most of these were not the greatest experiments.  Actually, they are mostly demonstrations and not experiments.  There was not much opportunity to expand and teach further concepts and they jumped around topic-wise.

Losing a day each week.  My days are precious and my time with my children is precious.  I want to give them a much broader science and fine arts experience than CC Foundations can provide.  I need that fifth day lost to CC to ensure that we can fit the arts and science into our schedule.  Also, we would prefer to lose days to do field trips with a second homeschool group, or to do more extracurricular activities than be tied to CC.

The expense.  I have two kids who would be in the Foundations level this year.  The price tag comes to about $1000.  This sounds silly, but I’d rather go to the beach for a week with the money I save by doing CC at home.  We build better family memories at the beach with Daddy than we do at CC and ultimately, I want my children to treasure their childhoods and their special time on vacation with us.

This does not mean that I wouldn’t consider Essentials or Challenge further down the road, but for now, we are done with Foundations, though you may still see occasional CC posts on the blog since we will be doing it, albeit in a modified way, at home.

So what would I keep from CC?
Memory work (a mix of their choices and my own additions)
The CC memory CDs to play in the car
Memory Master Flashcards (even if we change up some of the memory work, I like to have these in my purse)
The timeline song
The idea of fine arts enrichment but then doing it my way
Presentations done in front of peers (a group of moms and I have a little group going that meets once a month and we do presentations about different countries during that time)

I truly hope this post is helpful to families considering CC.  We enjoyed our two years in it.  We had a hard time deciding not to return this coming year and spent a lot of time in prayer to come to that decision.  I don’t dislike the program, but it isn’t for every family.  Mostly CC families only rave about the program. Not many people talk about what they don’t prefer about it.   I don’t think that is fair to prospective families.  My prayer with this post is that it gives another perspective.

Written by Julie Cerdas
I'm a stay-at-home Catholic mom who loves playing with and teaching my two children.