Taking the Classical Plunge

This post has been a long time coming.  I started reading books on homeschooling when my oldest was just a baby.  Through the preschool years I leaned toward the Charlotte Mason method, but I was never a CM purist.  Here and there I would read about classical education, and because I have always loved learning, parts of it naturally clicked with me and I incorporated them into our eclectic approach.

Then last year, I was asked to write a review of The Conversation by Leigh A. Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations, a program which many of my friends across the country have praised.  I was so intrigued by the ideas presented in this book about homeschooling classically during high school, I went out and purchased Bortins’ books on elementary and middle school education (The Core and The Question).

Bortins Collage
At the same time, Ian started going through a Veritas Press online history course, which showed me the classical method in action.  He memorized their timeline and so much information as he went through his lessons. The VP memory song was so successful for us, especially for Ian, who is a strong auditory learner, that I went looking for a similar resource to cover all of history. I  loved the VP course, but I wanted something I could reuse with all my children through our history cycle over and over, so an online course wasn’t where I wanted to settle.  I also wanted to avoid a full curriculum or textbook, seeking instead for more of a skeletal framework I could use with children at various levels.

My search led me back to Classical Conversations.  By this time I had finished all three of Bortins’ books, and while I really liked what I read, I wasn’t ready to commit to joining a CC Community.  For one thing, I didn’t want another day out of the house.  I also really like the 4-year history cycle we’ve been using, and CC uses a 3-year cycle.  I figured we could just use some of their materials as a framework.  I purchased all their Timeline cards, as well as a set of CDs, and before long my kids were memorizing the Timeline song (and more).

CC Card Notebooks
All my kids were learning so much, and as we wrapped up this school year and started looking ahead to next year, several things came about that convinced me to set aside my reservations and reconsider joining a CC Community.  In a God-orchestrated way, we were all set within days, and the kids are almost as excited as I am about this next stage of our homeschooling journey.

As eager as I am, I’m also a little nervous.  This is the first time I’ll be following someone else’s plans rather than having the flexibility of doing things on my own.  I’m sure it will take some time to get into a rhythm that works for us as far as how much time to spend on CC material on the days we’re at home.  Overall, however, I am looking forward to the new school year and what lies ahead of us as we step deeper into classical Christian education.