Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Classical Conversations | How Much Does It Cost?

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When I first heard of Classical Conversations my first question was, "How much will it cost?"

As the couponing, make my dollar stretch, stay ay home mom, it took me a year of praying and a parent practicum to fully understand the value and worth of the education my children would be receiving.

If you have looked into Classical Conversations, you know there is a cost involved. Costs vary from co-op to co-op and family to family, but the fees cover registration and supply fees. Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge each carry a different cost- Foundations being the easier of the three and Challenge requiring a greater level of instruction by the tutors.

 So How Much Does It Cost? 


Here it is laid out for you. Tuition for Foundations is $350 per year, registration is $75 for the first child ($50 each additional child), and a $50 supply fee. Depending on where a CC community meets, there may also be a building use fee. For my daughter to be in the Foundations phase of CC this year cost $480. (You can read here why we have chosen Classical Conversations for our children)

Now before you gasp at the sticker shock, consider, we only bring a snack and lunch to co-op. Markers, crayons, pencils, photocopies, paints, art supplies, science project materials, and scissors are all provided for us because of our supply fee (Essentials only has a $20 supply fee because their work does not require the same type of supplies that Foundations does).

As we began to weigh the cost, we thought back to the Christian school I worked at for ten years, which is considered the most reasonably priced private Christian school in our area. Between registration fees, entrance exam fees, book fees, the purchase of school uniforms, back-to-school supplies, weekly pizza day (optional), field trip costs, and the tuition for the full year of attending the academy, we averaged that it would cost about $5,000 per year to attend this particular private, Christian school. In relation to that cost, $480 is quite doable for an education that we believe is exceptional for our children.

What Do You Have To Buy?


When it comes to curriculum, one of my favorite aspects of CC is that what I buy for Addie will also be used for Ian when when he starts. So for example this year being our first year, I had to purchase the Foundations: The Weekly Grammar for Classical Communities (Classical Foundations) Guide which contains all of the information needed for Cycles 1-3 ($60) and the tin whistle ($10). I chose to also purchase the Cycle 3 audio CDs ($30- which we listen to while driving in the car and in the house in the morning) and the History Timeline Cards ($88). When Ian joins CC next year, I will only be purchasing one tin whistle so that he can have his own and the set of audio CDs which accompany Cycle 1. The Foundations Guide remains the same yearly, and the Timeline is relearned on a yearly basis. Until both Addie and Ian complete the 6th grade, they will be using these same materials every year.

Once I have all 3 cycles of audio CDs, until Addie enters Essentials, I will not have to make any other purchases.

As we expand on what is being learned in our history and science, I can go to the library to borrow books and use what I already have in our home library. I am opting not purchase any other books for our schooling, because I know that once my children enter Essentials and Challenge, I may need to make some large book purchases. But again, whatever I buy for Addie, Ian will use when he enters that phase.

The cost of a home education is a personal decision that each family has to make. However, if you choose to make the investment into a Classical Conversations education for your children, I believe it will be money well spent.

Also in this series:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Teaching My Preschooler | A Relaxed Approach

This post contains affiliate links.

I know that it seems that I have slacked on this series, but, truth be told, Ian's learning has looked a lot different over the last few weeks than it has in the weeks prior.

Our learning time on some days has involved a lot of coloring, reading stories, and listening in on what Addie is learning. 

On other days, our learning has revolved around making crafts and painting (a huge hit with my little man).

Some days our learning consists of reading a book along with a CD and then playing some games with the manipulatives that have come with the story. We loved the Brown Bear book and CD storytime set for activities like this.

My other approach lately has been to just make up pages in his composition notebook. We have traced his right hand and left hand, I've drawn out numbers and letters for him to color and add stickers to based on the number or letter we are talking about, and some pages are dedicated to practicing letter formation.

Life has been beautifully busy recently, but we have managed to maintain a loose learning time for Ian. I prefer this to a strict "learning time" for him because lifelong learners are developed when they do not see learning as fitting into a specific time slot, but as a natural ongoing flow to life. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Love Letters from God | Review

I was recently sent a copy of the book Love Letters from God: Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. I will tell you all about this book, but let me just start out by saying that when your 3 and 6 year old ask if you can read them the "Love Letters" book throughout the day, you know it is book that kids "get" and truly love.

There are children's Bible story books a plenty, but Glenys Nellist has taken a completely unique approach to sharing these Bible stories. Much in the way that I retell Bible accounts, Glenys shares the accounts from the point of view of the characters in the story- not as an outsider looking in. What might Jonah have been thinking when he ran away from God? What might Eve have thought as she touched and ate the fruit? Might David have had the courage to go against Goliath because he knew that God was with him?

Each account walks children through the Bible account in a way that they will understand and gives them a Bible verse (God's Wonderful Words to You) which carries on the main theme or even a phrase that Glenys made sure was a part of the account.

However, the part that my children loved the most, was the "Love Letter from God." At the end of each account is a little flap that opens up to a "letter" which starts out "Dear ____________." The first time I read it and added my children's names in, they both sat up a little straighter and their eyes got bigger! The letter goes on to make the Bible account applicable to the child's life and shares how they can also have what these Bible characters and heroes had because God gave them the courage, strength, protection, etc. and He will give them those things as well.

The words are beautifully written and stand on their own quite well, but there is truly nothing like a well-written book with beautiful illustrations. Sophie Allsopp has done a superb job in her illustrations. This is an example of illustrations being beautiful enough to stand on their own, yet support the words in every way.

I am so glad that I was able to review "Love Letters from God: Bible Stories." It is definitely one book that we will be keeping in our library for years to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Is Classical Conversations and Why We Chose It

Imagine that you are building a house. What would be the first place that you would start (assuming the land has already been cleared and permits are pulled)?

The foundation.

In education, having a strong foundation is critical to building upon in the future. If the foundation is weak (facts are not memorized, dates and people are abstractly learned, and each subject is seen as being completely separate and on its own), future information will be harder to grasp and eventually the foundation will fall apart leaving a very frustrated student.

As Christian homeschooling parents, having a God-centered curriculum was our main concern. Having a curriculum that reinforces our faith, beliefs, and would help our children critically understand why we believe what we believe AND give them the strong foundation in academics was hugely important to us.

That is why we chose to use Classical Conversations as our children's curriculum, not just for this year but, Lord willing, for the rest of their education.

From K4-6th grade, children are given a strong foundation. In fact during these "Foundations" years, children memorize 7 pieces of information per week (24 weeks per year) through songs and rhymes:
  • Timeline
  • History
  • Math
  • Science
  • English Grammar
  • Latin
  • Geography
They also memorize a passage of Scripture in Latin and the English translation, the books of the Bible, and the Presidents of the United States. While they are learning all of this information, they are also learning how God, His hand, or plan can be seen in each and every subject.

There are 3 cycles in Classical Conversations, with each year covering one cycle. Every three years, children relearn the same information solidifying what they learned previously and allowing the child to learn more the second or 3rd go around.

For example, right now we are in Cycle 3 which focuses on American history. We are reading a few biographies on the people we are learning about, watching videos and movies based on the historical events we are memorizing, and reading historical fictions based on times periods we are in. In three years when we are in Cycle 3 again, Addie will be in 5th grade and able to be assigned biographies to read on her own while I read to Ian at the level that he will be at.

Which brings me to another aspect of CC I love. Both of my children will be learning the same exact information, but I can take it to the level each child is at. For instance, next year Ian will be required to join CC because he will be four and on campus. I will only be having him memorize the information as best he can.... with no pressure.... and if he wants to listen in on what I do with Addie, he can.

Right now, my daughter will learn over 500 pieces of information this year alone. Do I expect her to understand fully everything she is learning, grasp every concept, and be able to explain everything she has memorized? No, and neither does the founder of Classical Conversations. That is why children cover each cycle at least 2 times in elementary school. Each time they review something, a little more will stick, a little more will be understood, and their foundation will be that much stronger.

Does my daughter understand everything she has learned? Almost! She amazes me with everything she has absorbed so far. In fact, I love that as she is going through her day and hearing something completely unrelated to our schoolwork, she relates things back to what she has learned on her own. For example, she was reading a storybook and in it the author wrote out each of the five senses without naming them as such. She gasped and shouted, "Mom! Those are our five senses!" (which she had just memorized for science a few weeks prior)

When my children reach 4th grade, they will enter a new phase of the program called "Essentials." This phase of the program spans 4th-6th grades, and English grammar becomes the focus of their educational program. They will have a huge text book that they will work through each year from beginning to end. The first year is meant to familiarize them with the information. The second year  things in the book begin to make sense and pieces fall into place (now that they and you are out of shock from the first year of Essentials and the intensity of the program). The third year, essay writing becomes easier and all of the grammar information they have learned now is completely understandable in their minds (per kids in our co-op who are in their final year of Essentials).

Because of what Addie is memorizing for English Grammar in Foundations, she will not have to learn parts of speech and how to use them simultaneously. She will have memorized what the parts of speech are, which words fall under each part, and what sentence parts are. I am not bothered that she will not know how to use them until she reaches 4th grade. I know that when the time comes, having a strong foundation will benefit her when it is time to build a structure on her foundation.

As they leave Foundations and Essentials, my children will reach the Challenge stage. In the Challenge stage, literature, critical thinking, and expressing their thoughts correctly in persuasive, thought provoking ways becomes a huge focus of their education. Speech making becomes a frequent assignment, giving them the skills to think critically on their feet before an audience- a skill many adults do not have.

During the Challenge phase, parents are encouraged to begin allowing their students to work independently and to become a resource instead of being an instructor. This teaches students responsibility and time management. 

Addie is loving CC. I love seeing her love for learning bloom in a way I have never seen before. The child asks to study! She has us all humming her memory songs along with her randomly throughout the day. She asks to listen to the "Timeline Song" (which she is up to date with in her memorization). She randomly starts skip counting as she is walking through the house or folding laundry. One day, for fun, she sat down and began drawing out the human body complete with simple skeletal, muscular, digestive, and respiratory systems and then proceeded to explain to us why people get heartburn.

I am so thankful to God for Classical Conversations.

I am linking up at: Happy and Blessed Home, The Pin Junkie

Monday, October 13, 2014

You Have Been Invited! | A Review

Are you looking for a book that is filled with Scripture for your children? I recently reviewed You Have Been Invited! by Brian Howell at Christian Children's Book Review. Come by and check out this great book!


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