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Classical Conversations, my view


I joined a new Classical Conversations group, without understanding what it was. Actually, I didn’t just join, I had to Jenny-fy it and sign up as a tutor, too.
I like things messy.

Not totally my mistake, really, Classical Conversations is kind of hard to explain. Here’s my take, as I see it, after going through tutor training and having taught now 3 weeks….

The clearest way I can paint what CC is, would be to say it is closest to a co-op, but it’s NOT. Clear?

It looks like a co-op, walks like one…but is not. Classical Conversations is a community of homeschool parents (mostly moms) who come together once a week to hold “Classical” classes. The big lure, the reason it is so brilliant,– all the decisions about what to learn/memorize, when, how, how much…have all been made by Classical Conversations-the organization; and—- I love this part—-they even have ready made materials such as songs and flashcards to help you do it.

I love the thought of Classical homeschool, I agree that memorization is very important at the grammar stage. But.- it just wasn’t happening at my house. I’d research, collect some catchy songs to memorize things, intend to put it on my ipod and “start me some learning”…and never get around to it. Kind of busy doing the basic three R’s, teaching phonics, keeping the dog from loving the hens too much, cleaning, laundry, making meals, being taxi mom…

My Classical Conversations day looks like this so far…. stay up way too late Monday night gathering my materials, packing them up…like the bell for family feud game, flashcards, cd player, maps I printed out from the CC website. But, I’m getting better at it and each Monday has been less late.

Tuesday, I arrive early, set up my classroom and then we all meet in a big assembly. There we have prayer, pledge of allegiance, Bible memory work and one family does a public speaking sort of presentation. We run through the history timeline cards with hand motions, too.

Next we split up into individual classes, which are set up by age. I have a 4th/5th grade group. I then have from 9:30 to 12 to push them through all our material before we break for lunch. It is a dizzying large amount of material and so far, as I’m setting up, I’m thinking…“why am I doing? This is crazy? I don’t want to do this…” I clearly have issues with teaching in front of a classroom, but I knew this going into it… I should mention the class size is 8 students, it’s kind of cozy and not as scary as facing a class of 30…

And yet, it is a fast ride, we have a blast, and before I know it, it is lunch time. And, get this…

The kids are eating it up, and they are learning all the material.
The material I keep thinking is too much.
They memorize it, and spit it back at me with glee.

I write up my white-board diagram the night before. People, I have to tell you, the white-board idea is inspired! It’s genius! I’ve decided it’s the answer to my life’s problems…but that will have to be another post…

ahem, I set up my white-board, it has listed on one side each subject we will go through, including ‘review old grammar work’ and also I write out the new grammar, such as geography terms, Latin nouns, the history sentence, etc. As we work down our list, I erase each item.

It’s stinking brilliant, I’m telling you!

The kids start each week with a public speaking turn. We then work through our new grammar, reciting/singing/using flashcards. I throw in some quick review as we are doing it and award tickets that they can cash in once a month. We have a time slot for a science experiment and a slot for a simple art lesson. We have a big slot for reviewing all the old material from previous weeks, this is the kid’s favorite part. We play games, such as jeopardy style, family feud style, what-ever the tutor comes up with…and the kids just love it!

and then it’s time to stop, and we all meet for lunch…the moms visit and the kids play.

After lunch, there is a class for the older kids covering English grammar, math games and writing. It’s like a co-op because all the moms have to attend with their children. But, it’s not a co-op because the moms do not take turns teaching, one tutor teaches each class all year. The moms are there to learn from what the tutor is doing, so they can run their children through the material at home. As a tutor, I’m not really teaching…just facilitating, presenting the material. The moms do help out and pass out papers and help with bathroom breaks and such. Or, like last week, I tried to sing the parts of an animal cell to the tune of ‘happy birthday’ and could not pull it off…I asked one of the moms to bail me out!

So, this is a view of what CC looks like from where I am sitting. In case you were wondering.

did I mention I now know the 5 kingdoms of living things, and the classification of living things? Also the definition of a preposition. I have to say the Latin is just enough to make me dangerous…

homeschool- we are forever learning.

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About the author: Jenn; writer, photographer, homeschooled five children and lived to tell the tale.

{ 62 comments… add one }

  • Starlene September 17, 2009, 7:08 AM

    I'm so impressed!! Glad it is still going so well. :-) Keep it up.

  • Karen Sue September 20, 2009, 10:30 PM

    Glad to see you're keeping busy, and here I thought you were just sitting around eating bonbons!! Apples, you lucky girl! I didn't get my fruit tree situation set up yet..there was some yarn-work/cleaning mowing that needed to happen that did not have a completion…so maybe next year. My new blueberry bushes are so tiny, I'm afraid I might lose them over the winter. Considering planting a few more, older ones to protect them! My kids are deep into their fall sports and loving them. the sr.year thing is not so easy on the mom, but I'll be OK!! Have a good week!

  • Blessed Mommy September 23, 2009, 12:36 AM

    Wow! I am definitely impressed. My head is still spinning, but in a good way. We are using a classical website as our guide for our history and we are loving it. I am very happy for you. Many blessings.

  • Hen Jen October 3, 2009, 9:48 PM

    Blessed Mommy,

    my head is spinning, too. I really like what we are doing, but I am still evaluating if it is too much for the kids, time will tell! If we were not doing anything else, it would be just right!

    have a great week! oh..which classical website? always looking for more curricula!!! manic laughter here…

  • Pylegang October 8, 2009, 4:35 AM

    Jenny,
    Thanks for your message on WTM boards about my blog! I thought I'd stop by your site and stumbled on this message about CC! I'm in my 3rd year of CC (2 yrs. as a masters tutor and currently tutoring Challenge A). We love our day at CC and I'm thankful for all of the material that my boys learn and are exposed to each year. –Not to mention the art & science activities! Many blessings to you as you continue this new endeavor. BTW, my "comments" button is now working! :)

  • Hen Jen October 8, 2009, 4:46 PM

    Pylegang,

    so glad you stopped by! This is my very fist year in CC and as a tutor. I am really enjoying it! I can't believe how much material we cover!

    glad your comments are working now, I'll be back to visit. see you around the boards. ;)

  • shari October 23, 2009, 2:42 PM

    Thanks Jenny! This was so helpful for me in understanding CC.

  • Amy October 30, 2009, 12:48 AM

    Hi Jenny,
    I am in my first year with CC and my first year homeschooling my three children. Most people have expressed either how crazy I am or how overly ambitious I must be to take a 4th and 8th grader out of public school and homeschool them in addition to a very lively preschooler. I am still trying to catch my breath. I love the program and the fact that my 4 year old is learning by default. He is learning all the memory work along with his 9 year old sister. Although I tend to feel pulled in so many directions and keep praying for Gods insight and wisdom in how to provide instruction to my son in Challenge B and my daughter in Foundations and Essentials when they need my attention. This has been the most difficult part of homeschooling. I have to admit it can feel overwhelming and though I don't tutor Monday nights are exhaustingly long. It is refreshing to just hear from other moms. I wish that my CC group had a bit of tutoring for new homeschool mom's in the program. It is quite a transition to make. Sometimes I don't feel like I have time to fit in everything they need to learn and then other times I feel like I want to provide more for them, feeling concern that they might be missing something. I wish I had more opportunity for music. My oldest is a musician, he played the violin for about 3 years and played the trumpet the past two years as first chair, he dropped playing his trumpet altogether since there is not a band among the homeschoolers in CC. However he has been very interested in the electric guitar and plays that on his own and has made great progress without a personal instructor. I am hoping that there will be more opportunity for my kids to get out and be among other homeschool kids aside from just the day we meet with our CC community. We have sort of felt a bit isolated our first year of homeschooling. I am preparing to take my kids on field trips since there is not much our CC group seems to be doing aside from apple picking and the local Zoo. All in all I truly love the program, our tutors are really wonderful people and the mom's all have the same goal in mind for our kids. Sorry so longwinded. Grateful for your blog. Amy

  • Hen Jen October 30, 2009, 3:26 AM

    Amy,

    so glad you stopped by and left a comment! Welcome to homeschooling, it will seem easier the longer you are at it!! I think you have a good idea, a class for new homeschool moms…unfortunately, I have a guess that the other moms at your CC are just as stretched out as you are and probably can't imagine adding one more thing to their plate! I get a lot of help from homeschool message boards.

    I have some years where I feel isolated and desire more friendships, but most years we are just so busy getting the schooling done that I don't have time to hang out and do field trips and such, except for on my own timing…I pray that you find a mentor or a friend to hang out with. CC is an amazing concept, I'm glad I found it.

    good luck this year, enjoy the process and just enjoy being together!

    much Grace and peace to you,

  • Shawnda April 17, 2010, 6:39 PM

    I found your site with Google, and I recognize you from TWTM forum (right?) I'm looking at CC for next year and would love to hear what you think now that the CC year is almost over! How did your kids do and how did you like being a tutor? Also, which CC resources would you recommend for Foundations for a 6th grade boy (who may not get into the singing)?

  • Hen Jen April 19, 2010, 6:51 AM

    Hi Shawnda,

    I couldn't find an email for you, so I will reply here; I enjoyed CC, thought it was a really good program- we used it as a supplement not as our core curriculum, so we just listened to the memory work in the car and spent time during the week drilling it. My special ed student shut down after the winter break and quit trying, it was just too much for him.

    I did not over all enjoy being a tutor- I enjoyed it while I was running the class, but I was very overwhelmed with the prep work needed each week. I am not a type A person, am pretty non-structured, get distracted..maybe another personality type would do better. All the material to teach was not in the book as I believed, I spent a lot of time each week having to research the topics to teach them and finding/printing maps. The CC online community was a saving grace with other moms posting maps and helps. I made lots of copies of things every week. I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I had not been a tutor. But, if you are very organized and love a challenge, you would probably enjoy it. I did enjoy being in the class and bringing the kids through the material, they were a lot of fun and I was amazed at how eager they were to learn. I loved doing the science experiments and fine arts stuff- things I would not have done myself at home. I did not love having to prepare and set up the activities.
    If your son is not into singing, get the little flash-index cards and get the C3 community online, they had online flashcards that were helpful for review.

    please email me if you'd like to chat more!

  • Shawnda April 25, 2010, 3:11 AM

    Thanks for your comments, Jen! I especially appreciate knowing that all the material you need to tutor is not in the manual. I am being asked about tutoring, and so that info is very helpful.

    I wish CC were set up so that each mom contributed something so that one tutor wouldn't have to be in charge of 2.5 hours each and every week. Even though I'm one of the more experienced homeschooling moms in our group, I'm afraid that I would be prepared to tutor each week, but I would do it at the expense of working with my own kids on their other schoolwork.

    Are you going to participate in CC next year?

  • Shawnda April 25, 2010, 3:17 AM

    Also, what is the difference between using CC as your core and using it as a supplement? Would it be just whether or not your history program at home lined up with CC topics?

    What VP products do you recommend? Only the history cards or the CDs too? Or, maybe, only the CDs for the time periods covered in the CC cycle?

    Thanks again!

  • Hen Jen May 1, 2010, 4:25 AM

    Shawnda,

    sorry took so long to get an answer up, I did a long answer and then had internet problems and lost it!!!

    anyway,

    I agree with you that it would have been nice to share the tutor duties, I wished I could have split it, maybe do 12 weeks and then have another mom do the last 12 weeks.

    no, we will not be in CC next year,I realized I needed to be home working on basic skills with my bonus student, we lost all Tuesday with CC and then he is not at my house on Wed. and I was kind of checked out by lunch on Mondays getting ready for CC…so we are going to stay home next year.

  • Hen Jen May 1, 2010, 4:29 AM

    Shawnda,

    some moms to plan there year around CC subjects, but I honestly thought it moved too fast to do that. We happened to be doing Sonlight Core 2, which is the 2nd half of Ancient history, so it worked out nicely, we would run into people we had memorized on the cards or in the history sentence. We did our own studies and used CC as a supplement.

    as far as the Veritas cards cd, you cannot use it, because CC does the cards in a different order. Ask your director, but last year, they had an offer that if you purchased the Veritas cd, you could exchange it for the CC version. I don't know anyone in our group that did though, we just chanted it. I think you would need 4 cds, CC goes through all the cards in one year, but then does them again the next.

  • Jennifer August 31, 2010, 1:29 AM

    Shawnda, we, too, started with CC last year. I have 2 boys ages 6 & 9. They LOVED CC. I went in with a very laid back attitude. I only wanted the boys to have a chance to work in a group with other children and to experience a different teacher… I didn't have any expectations beyond that. We didn't do much extra at home… and even so, we all learned a ton. By the end of the year, the boys were already saying they were going for Memory Master (where they MEMORIZE everything presented during the year and are tested on it at the end of the year), so this year, we are going to spend a bit more time on CC at home.

    I would seriously recommend that you NOT tutor your first year. I have yet to meet a Mom who tutors their first year and ends up happy by the end. It's just too much to go in without knowing any of the material and try to teach it – very time consuming outside of class. If at all possible, just be a CC Mom this year… and then, after you understand the program better from a year of experience, maybe you'll want to tutor next year. It will be overwhelming if you try to do it all your first year, whether you are Type A or not.

    One of our tutor Moms set all of the VP cards (in CC order) to popular children's songs (Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, The First Noel, etc.) and then made a CD to share with everyone to help the kids memorize them. This was great! If you have a musically talented tutor in your group, I highly recommend this.

    CC is not for everyone, but we love it. If you have questions, I'm happy to answer them as well. You can find my e-mail through my blog by clicking on my name in this comment. Not trying to snag your conversation, Jen, just thought it is often good to talk with more than one person as everyone's experiences are different.

    I actually got talked out of CC the year before we started and I am so sorry I didn't ask around more now that we are in the program and love it!

  • Phillips Family May 17, 2011, 8:29 PM

    Stumbled across your blog after googling "Classical Conversations Review". Thanks for the excellent summary of CC! It was very helpful

  • Anonymous June 21, 2011, 10:28 PM

    Hi Jenny,

    You're going to love CC even more as your children grow. I thought you'd enjoy seeing all of the cool ways we do CC here on the east coast!

    http://restonclassicalconversations.blogspot.com/search/label/Nathan

  • Melinda Curtis October 11, 2011, 7:02 PM

    I would love for you to check out my blog I post a lot of supplemental activities to do at home with your kiddos.
    This is my 2nd year in Classical Conversations and my first year tutoring. It is a whirlwind, every week, and those thoughts of WHY am I doing this go thru my head the night before I have to teach too. But it’s all good!
    http://lindyandjeanne.blogspot.com/

    • Jenn October 20, 2011, 3:44 PM

      Hi Melinda!

      So glad you left a comment so I know that you were here! Yes, CC is kind of a whirlwind, and yes- I always wondered why I thought it was a good idea..the night before! I am a very unstructured person, so being a tutor was really a stretching thing for me ;)

      I will definitely be by to visit your blog, I love making new blog friends and finding new blogs to read.

      much grace and peace to you,

  • Lisa November 8, 2011, 1:47 PM

    Thankyou for your post. It blessed my heart to read your blog. I am a tutor with four children and loving the experience but feeling just like you . This is a wonderful program and my kids love it!!!

  • Dee December 4, 2011, 9:31 PM

    Jennifer,

    I absolutely agree with your advice to attend a year of ‘CC’ before becoming a tutor. Our new CC group has had some growing pains along the way and all tutors are first year CCers. Lots of problems with the moms who are not teaching trying to go with the idea of tutors presenting material for them to expound on and not teaching subject matter in full detail. It has definitely been a road I wish I hadn’t traveled. Observing would have been nice and then tutor the following year. We do love the program and feel we learn easily when the format is followed. Our particular class has lots of disruptions with mom’s interjecting what they know about subjects all along the way which leaves no time for review. It has been a true learning experience.

  • Mark Fitzhenry December 31, 2011, 3:52 AM

    Jenn,

    Beautiful blog, well done.

    I’m not a CC Mom but a former CC Dad. We home schooled (my wife gets the credit, of course, because she deserves it!) our three older kids at home. That produced two Nat. Merit Finalist and a Nat. Honor Roll. Our fifth child, 5 now, has Down Syndrome, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and autism.

    With the special needs child, we enrolled our 14 year old in Classical Conversations in Sullivan’s Island, SC. It went pretty well for the first year but there were recurring problems with one of the Directors and her daughter, a Challenge student with my daughter. People met with the Director and her daughter last year and we thought the problems were resolved.

    In October, 2011, there was an altercation between two students (minor, name-calling, cursing, shoving) of a girl by a younger boy. The older girl finally grabbed the boy and told him to stop. The boy’s own father admitted that the boy was the aggressor. The problem Director led “an investigative process”. The boy (a co-Director’s son) was suspended for one week and the girl for three weeks.

    When it was pointed out that the Challenge II Handbook never mentions “suspension” but a three-step disciplinary policy with apologies for a first offense, we were told there was no appeal, no discussion, no review. When I found out that the girl had run afoul of the daughter of the Director who had conducted the “investigative process,” I became very concerned.

    The Director claimed to have interviewed two witnesses who wanted to remain anonymous. The Director refused to give the father of the girl a reason for the disparate punishment but promised to provide him with her handwritten notes of her investigation. She not only failed to provide the notes, she sent out an email to all CC parents directing them to stop asking about the disciplinary actions taken ending with a statement that the ‘Directors reserve the right to make decisions at their own discretion.’ With such a policy it made all existing policies superfluous.

    The parents of the girl appealed to ####, the Chief Operating Officer of Classical Conversations, Inc. Appeals were also made to ####, the SC State Director and Leigh Bortins, the owner of Classical Conversations, Inc. Those appeals not only fell on deaf ears, they revealed deep-rooted problems in the attitudes and actions that permeate the leadership of CC and its corporate culture.

    Later in October, we learned from a CC Mom that the Director who had led the disciplinary investigation had also been making very disturbing, unfounded allegations against my daughter and two other Challenge II students who had run afoul of the Director’s daughter. She was directed to go the the students’ parents with any allegations.

    My wife and I contacted the Director to discuss any “unresolved problems” between the Director and my daughter. We received a tortured denial of the existence of any “unresolved problems” and a refusal to meet. There was one problem: the Director had emailed her disturbing comments about my daughter to another CC Mom.

    On December 11, 2011, we appealed to the ####’s and to Leigh Bortins, the owner of Classical Conversations, Inc. by asking: “Are you aware of the emails from Classical Conversations, Inc.’s contracting agent, Essentials Director #####, regarding my daughter and other Sullivan’s Island Classical Conversations’ students? Are Director ####s’ emails compatible with the corporate culture, ethics, image, and policies of Classical Conversations, Inc.?”

    We never received the courtesy of a reply. We pulled our daughter out of CC as did several other families.

    No, I doubt this is representative of every Classical Conversations, or even a handful. Few CC parents will ever feel the need to appeal to Mrs. Bortins. But, from what I have observed, the people and attitudes that allowed the mess to happen at the Sullivan’s Island CC are even more entrenched now.

    Be careful and know who has access to your kids.

    Mark Fitzhenry
    Charleston, SC

    • Jenn January 31, 2012, 8:23 PM

      Dear Mark,

      thank you for visiting and for your comment. I am so sorry that you and your family had such a bad experience at your CC campus. We only participated with CC for one year, but from my experience there, I would say that the Director does have a very important, vital position and his or her character and spirit can be the biggest influence in the warmth, feeling and closeness of the group. I was blessed to have a wonderful director my first year out with them, her gentleness and Christ-like love was a huge component of the success of our campus and the friendly feelings among the parents. It was wonderful to be able to turn to her with any difficulties, questions or potential conflicts and have her gentleness defuse the situation.

      You have a good point, that we need to be careful and know and/or try to vet carefully anyone we allow access to our kids, even if they are Christians, even if it is a Christian organization, school or Church.

      I am sorry for your pain, and I hope that you and your family have gone on to find healing.

      much grace and peace to you,
      -Jenn

      • Mark Fitzhenry February 2, 2012, 5:19 PM

        You are very kind, Jenn…and you have a great blog! Five or so former CC families are Co-op’ing and its working out very well. Since the students are Challenge II aged (15 to 17) and we as a group decided to use our new-found freedom and flexibility, we are also incorporating a Courtship video course and it is being very well accepted by the students! There’s nothing like positive spiritual influences within a peer group! Grace and Peace, Mark

    • Beth June 19, 2014, 10:09 PM

      Mark-
      Thank you for your experience in text form. Yours was the first red flag I found when exploring the CC world. I have since experienced some of the same inner world of CC. Those of the paid positions and their children are more “valuable”; tattling rather than openness about facts and willingness to admit error; arrogant superiority rather than humble unity; intolerance for anything other than glowing reviews. Your words are wise! “Be careful and know who has access to your kids.”

  • Susan Woodside January 24, 2012, 10:07 AM

    Jenn,
    I am a mother of two daughters, grandmother, and retired teacher in public schools for 27+ years. I am checking out the CC program at my daughter’s request – she is a mother of 2 toddlers looking at homeschool possibilities. She is also a certificated public school teacher, but wants more for her children in the way of time not wasted with crowd control issues, as well no restrictions on bring our Lord into the classroom.

    I appreciated your description of preparing for your one day of teaching. It brings back similar memories.

    Now here comes my red correction pen. Please correct in your blog the use of “to” where the word “too” should be used. I believe it was in a sentence about staying up too late with your preparations. Teachers are held to a higher standard.

    Your devotion to excellent parenting is applauded. It is the most important career of your life, and I wish you well.

    • Jenn January 31, 2012, 1:01 AM

      Hi Susan,

      thank you so much for your comment. I can tell you were one of the wonderful teachers from the golden era of teaching. We loved our time with CC, I just wish we had found it when my children were younger. I do think it is kind of a waste of money for Kindergartners – the material is not aimed at them, I really think they would benefit more from it 2nd grade and up. You can purchase their materials and do some of the memorizing at home, maybe a play and craft type co-op might be more economical and a better fit with really young children.

      Oh no, the red pen! Ouch! I went back and fixed the error, thank you for finding it. I know better, but sometimes I make those little, simple errors. I tell my kids that “‘A kitten dies every time you use an apostrophe to pluralize” [catchy, no?] and yet, I catch myself sometimes doing it.

      thank you for your well wishes, your daughter is lucky to have you as a resource and as a help.

      warmly,

      Jenn

  • Jessica February 7, 2012, 11:35 AM

    I’ve been searching all over the internet for more info regarding Classical Conversations. I am a new, soon to be, homeschooling mom trying to make some decisions regarding this coming school year. I will be attending an Open House in a few weeks to gather more information from them. After reading this blog and comments, I’m feeling confused. If we join and buy their Foundations Guide, we will still need our own curriculum? Or is their curriculum or guide book sufficient? I understand I would need my own grammar/phonics up through 3rd grade, and also my own match curriculum choice. I was under the impression that the remaining required subjects are included and are sufficient for educational law requirements.

    Can you clarify for me? Would I need to pay their tuition fee, guide book fee and then turn around and purchase separate curriculum in each subject area? Please help me understand!!! My oldest is VERY social…and I know would enjoy the weekly community classes…this coupled with the fact that I want to follow a Classical Education path is what drew me to this organization. Also, there are VERY few slots left in my area…I will need to make a decision soon and jump on the remaining one or two slots available…OR pray in another tutor for the group closest to me! LOL I know myself well enough to know that I do NOT want to be a tutor at this point in my life…maybe in a few years.

    Please bring clarity to me!!! :)
    Jess

  • Jenn February 7, 2012, 12:50 PM

    Hi Jess,

    Classical Conversations will not be enough as a full curriculum on it’s own, it is meant as a supplement. If you purchase the foundations book and extras needed, such as the timeline cards and memory songs on cd- you will have what you need to cover memorizing material in History (which ever history cycle your group is in this year) some math facts and formulas, some Science terms, some geography (though most of this is ancient geography & a waste in my opinion) some grammar facts such as the definition of a noun, some Bible, and some art & music-and some Latin declensions which is not learning Latin, but will help your students later if you teach it. CC is not a full curriculum, your student will be memorizing this material, but at home, you as the parent will have to teach the context and the why and how…if you choose. The History moves too fast in my opinion to use as your main guide, you will need a separate History program (you can pick one for the same general time frame) or if your kids are young you can just choose to get library books to delve deeper into the History sentence each week. If you have older students doing Essentials, then the grammar portion would be a full Grammar course.

    It is confusing, going to the open house will help. A big misconception is that your student will attend their CC day and be taught their lessons. In reality, the tutor will push them through memorizing the new material, play games and do clever things to help them memorize- but will not be teaching them lessons on what they are learning- no deep explanations of what they are learning. The tutor will also spend time reviewing what they have already learned.

    CC can be a great thing for your family, if this is the kind of group you are looking for. I would advise you though, to not join up out of pressure of fear of losing a slot- CC is quite a bit of money and they do not offer refunds if you have to quit. If you are really unsure, I would advise you to attend the open house, talk to families already in CC, ask if you can attend any days already in session…the director might let your child join a class for a day to get the feel for it. If you are unsure, you can always purchase the materials, work on it at home and if you like it, then join the next year.

    I hope that helps, I will email you also.

    -Jenn

  • Alba February 21, 2012, 4:29 PM

    I was just wondering why you only decided to do CC for one year. I am considering CC for my 5 year old daughter, I was pretty pumped about CC, but after reading your blog (mainly the comments) I’m very perplexed. I also have a soon to be 3yr old son for whom I would be paying a nursery fee. I just want to know if is all worth it, or if I can accomplish this “on my own”. I need an outline and structure, but if CC doesn’t provide an adequate one..what then?! We are in the middle of our first year of (pre-school) homeschool. From one overachiever to another, I would also sign up to tutor as part of the deal. Help.

    • Jenn February 23, 2012, 1:00 AM

      Hi Alba,

      sorry I missed your comment, I had a few end up in my spam folder. At the time, we decided to quit CC after 1 year for two reasons; 1)I was very burnt out after being a tutor my very first year. 2) it took up so much time that I felt we couldn’t afford to lose, after our CC day we were all kind of fried and didn’t usually do much after. My bonus student has some LD’s and is behind in some areas, I realized I need to focus on the basics and CC took time away from that.

      After stepping away, I could see a few other issues- the memory work: while I loved that CC had it all arranged, planned and on CD &cards – I wasn’t impressed with some of their choices. I loved the history sentences, most of the Math memory work, and some of the Science, but I felt some of it was a waste to memorize. My big problem was the map work, much of it- the year we were there, was from ancient times. I had a problem memorizing maps and places that don’t exist now. Also the maps in the guide were no use, as a tutor I had to find and print up maps to use each week. Science, some of it was good, but then again, memorizing features of the Ocean floor seemed pointless.

      **But, having the choices made for you and having the songs/chants done for you is the genius of CC- not being a type A person, my good intentions most often don’t get fleshed out and we would end up not memorizing anything…so I think you have to weigh that with possible memorizing a few pointless things. I loved the community, my kids loved the socialization. I loved doing Science experiments and art every week. The music portion was kind of pointless the year I was there. I thought the English book for Essentials was worthless- the concepts were high concepts but the book was almost impossible to use…but I heard they have re-done the book and there is a new edition out. We ended up dropping Essentials, and losing the money I paid. I understand the concept of no refunds once you start, but in this case, I was not just changing my mind, I found the book we had to use worthless and confusing and my dd felt dumb and lost. The class itself was great, the tutor was wonderful and the Math games were great.

      All in all, there are so many wonderful things about CC, but there are some things that can be a hard fit. I do recommend if you have kids under 2nd grade, that you wait to join- the program is not geared for young kids. I would recommend that you go to an open house, and ask if your child could sit in on an entire class one day- this could help you decide. CC is hard to wrap your head around until you actually do it. I think we only had one negative comment here on my blog, please don’t let one family’s bad experience dissuade you from choosing CC. I would recommend that you do not rush into it to grab a slot, if you are unsure. Visit an open house, talk to some of the other families at the campus. Ask them what the day is like, how they so the memory work at home, what the favorite part of CC is for their kids. Good luck with your decision.

  • Tiffany March 1, 2012, 4:11 PM

    Hello, just wondering if you are still a part of CC? I am really thinking about the Essentials for my 8-yr-old son this Fall but don’t want to do the Foundations too, just the Essentials. I have two younger ones and don’t want to put too much on our plates ; ) Anyway, just wondering if you are still with it or if you aren’t and why. Thanks so much and your blog is a breath of fresh air! : ) Many blessings!

  • Tiffany March 1, 2012, 4:46 PM

    Ok, I just saw the previous comment explaining the answer to my question ; ) I’m headed to a parents info meeting tonight (fingers crossed) so we’ll see how it goes. It seems like we are very similar in our schooling styles/attitudes so I’m really questioning if this will be for us. My guy just struggles with writing and all of the English stuff, but is excelled everywhere else so I thought it might be a good boost for him…..hmmm….we’ll see. Thanks!!

  • Ashley Wang March 7, 2012, 12:30 PM

    Hi! Thanks for posting this! I’m currently in CC and love your opinions about it. Enjoy your awesome journey with Jesus…- A.W.

  • Ashley March 7, 2012, 12:33 PM

    Is your photo from Hope Christian Academy/Friends of Garden Grove Church? I go there!

    • Jenn March 16, 2012, 12:43 AM

      Ashley, yes- but the photo was taken a few years ago :) Small world!

  • Lisa March 28, 2012, 10:13 PM

    Dear Jenn —
    I stumbled upon your blog while googling CC and decided to take a look. I generally don’t blog, read blogs, I don’t understand bloggese, etc…. but I just had to make an entry since this topic is near and dear to my heart!

    I’ve homeschooled for 17 years, have graduated son #1, son #2 will graduate in May, and have daughter #1 left to go. My own kids have traveled through the Classical Conversations Challenge program because I came upon CC to late for them to benefit from Foundations and Essentials. I’ve been in CC for 5 years, directing Challenge A, which receives the students coming up from the Foundations and Essentials levels. While you may think that all these kids did was memorize some useful and some not so useful facts, I am able to see the way in which those file folders full of facts, built in the days when they could memorize most anything with ease, were accessed at a time when the explanation for them could be understood and they had an “Aha!” moment! It is a wondrous thing to behold!

    Building a foundation (pun intended!) takes time and homeschoolers can be impatient and we want results now (or at least this year ;) ) — there are just so many great programs, organizations, curriculums pulling us this way and that — but educating in the classical way is time consuming and the teacher must be patient in waiting for the outcome. While I believe that my kids are well educated, more importantly they are strong thinkers and defenders of what they know and believe because we’ve stayed the classical course.

    CC is not without its flaws and CC is not for everyone – I regret the experience of Mark, his family, and his friends. It is disappointing to me that Classical Conversations Corporate did not at least do him the courtesy of a reply, if not addressing in some way the situation. I assume there is some explanation for that, but I can only assure him and his friends that to my knowledge that his experience is unique among the many communities I know and have served.in my state. If conflicts have arisen, it has been approached Biblically with consideration for all concerned. I also completely agree not to feel pressure to join the group — a bad fitting shoe spreads great pain (an ancient Javanese proverb?!) meaning if it’s not a good fit, everyone suffers – the student, the family, the class, the CC community. Yes, there are community and class limits, but I have found that if I just leave my class roster to the Lord’s direction, I receive just the right combination of students every year! So trust His leading, take time to visit a CC community, talk to the moms and tutors, examine your own educational philosophy, and consider your student’s and family’s needs.

    I’ve become very reflective of my family’s homeschool years lately and if I could have a “do-over” of our homeschool journey, as their teacher and as their Mom, I would have focused more on character and less on curriculum, I would have focused my attention more on building upon their strengths and less on trying to remediate their weaknesses, and I would have done more listening and less talking.

    Thanks for your blog and the opportunity to blog in return – or am I just responding to your blogging?! Anyway, whatever is a support to homeschoolers is a great thing!! Blessings to you and your family – and all your readers — as you continue that journey this year…..
    LISA

    • Jenn April 3, 2012, 12:31 AM

      Hi Lisa,

      thank you for visiting my blog and thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. It’s so great to hear from someone who has been so blessed by their CC experience. I know that I loved CC the year we were there, my feelings post CC go back and forth. I do wish, in a big way, that I had found it when my kids were younger- say 2nd grade- and that they could have benefited from a structured, classical foundation from that age up- instead of my meandering-scattered approach.

      I loved what you said here:

      “…So trust His leading, take time to visit a CC community, talk to the moms and tutors, examine your own educational philosophy, and consider your student’s and family’s needs.

      I’ve become very reflective of my family’s homeschool years lately and if I could have a “do-over” of our homeschool journey, as their teacher and as their Mom, I would have focused more on character and less on curriculum, I would have focused my attention more on building upon their strengths and less on trying to remediate their weaknesses, and I would have done more listening and less talking….”

      I do feel like my homeschool years have come and gone in a flash! My oldest is in 11th grade this year and will graduate next year. There is so much I would like a re-do on!

      much grace and peace to you as you finish out this school year, and thank you, sincerely for your thoughts. I hope you will stop by again :)

      -Jenn

    • Kathryn April 20, 2012, 1:42 PM

      Hi Lisa,
      Perhaps you can reply to the comments that CC doesn’t provide a “complete” curriculum. I am just beginning to look into CC and would like to know what subjects you would supplement.
      Thank you,
      Kathryn

      • Jenn April 23, 2012, 2:31 PM

        Hi Kathryn,

        here is part of a past reply I gave to someone else regarding CC not being a complete curriculum:

        [[ Classical Conversations will not be enough as a full curriculum on its own, it is meant as a supplement. If you purchase the foundations book and extras needed, such as the timeline cards and memory songs on cd- you will have what you need to cover memorizing material in History (which ever history cycle your group is in this year) some math facts and formulas, some Science terms, some geography (memorizing places on a map) some grammar facts such as the definition of a noun, some Bible, and some art & music-and some Latin declensions which is not learning Latin, but will help your students later if you teach it. CC is not a full curriculum, your student will be memorizing this material, but at home, you as the parent will have to teach the context and the why and how…if you choose. The History moves too fast in my opinion to use as your main guide, you will need a separate History program (you can pick one for the same general time frame) or if your kids are young you can just choose to get library books to delve deeper into the History sentence each week. If you have older students doing Essentials, then the grammar portion would be a full Grammar course.

        It is confusing, going to the open house will help. A big misconception is that your student will attend their CC day and be taught their lessons. In reality, the tutor will push them through memorizing the new material, play games and do clever things to help them memorize- but will not be teaching them lessons on what they are learning- no deep explanations of what they are learning. The tutor will also spend time reviewing what they have already learned.]]

        - Classical Conversations is set up for memorizing material, but it will not teach the subject. For example, the kids will be memorizing the Veritas Press history timeline cards- they will look at the pictures, memorize the bolded part on the front of the card such as “the battle of little big horn” and be able to recite the sentences in order (which will give them a great mental timeline in their head of where things in History belong) but there will be no time in class to learn about it (the teacher might quickly explain what happened) and your foundations book will not contain a lesson on it. For Math, the kids will learn the times tables, some equations, but there are no Math lessons. If your kids are in CC, you are still going to need to have curriculum for all your subjects. If you have children in Essentials and above, a few subjects will be covered in depth -such as in Essentials you will have Grammar and writing covered in CC, you will play math games there, but you will still need a Math curriculum, I think you would also still need some kind of literature program, Essentials covered Grammar, not literature. I did not do Challenge, so my memory is fuzzy about what is involved with those classes. Some moms with very young children might not invest in a History curriculum but choose a few library books to cover some of the time cards in depth.

        If you can, go to an open house and try to have a visit day, also, it will help you “get” it. CC is a supplement program, not your year’s coursework. I hope this helped.

    • Julie July 13, 2012, 10:28 PM

      Lisa-
      Thank you for your comment: “I’ve become very reflective of my families homeschool years lately…”
      I’ve really needed to hear that piece of wisdom. I’m half way through with an 11yo and an almost 13yo. What wonderful advice you’ve given. I need to copy it and put it on a wall!

    • BJ February 5, 2013, 9:23 PM

      Very nicely said. Thank you for your honesty – especially looking back.
      We are just now considering CC after a year of Sonlight.
      Lots to think about.
      We LOVE Sonlight, but crave the community of CC.

  • Jennifer Hyatt May 8, 2012, 4:53 PM

    Hello Jenn,

    My name is Jen and I also live in southern California. I have been home educating since 2006. I stumbled across your blog and wanted to share mine. I am considering a position as a director for Classical Conversations for the Temecula, CA location for the Challenge 1 (9th graders). Any words of wisdom to help me decide?

    Blessings,
    Jen Hyatt
    http://www.blessedfamilyofflowers.wordpress.com
    mimzy4@msn.com

    • Jenn May 8, 2012, 5:58 PM

      Hi Jennifer,

      Nice to “meet” you. :)

      No words of wisdom for being a director, I only tutored, so I don’t know anything about being a director. The only thing I could say is to encourage you to be a blessing and a place of calm for the tutors and families under you. I was truly blessed to have a wonderful director who shone with Christ-likeness. She always had a soft answer and diffused potential conflict situations between different personalities. Let me know how it works out and what you decide!

  • Jennifer Hyatt May 9, 2012, 6:31 AM

    Hello Jen,

    Thank you.

    Blessings,
    Jen Hyatt
    http://www.blessedfamilyofflowers.wordpress.com
    mimzy4@msn.com

  • Tracey May 19, 2012, 9:24 AM

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m learning about the model. Seems like a long day for the parents who have a passive role during the day. Do they sit with their. Hidden while you facilitate?

    • Jenn May 21, 2012, 9:17 PM

      Hi Tracey,

      CC Foundations runs from 9 am till noon and is only once a week, so it goes by really fast. I was a tutor, so I was busy the entire time, but the parents that sat in on my class usually sat and absorbed what I was doing, so they could do it at home and I also utilized them as extra sets of hands to pass things out for me, help hold a chart, help me with the experiments or help me sing one of the songs or something if I got stuck. It became a really friendly class, I appreciated the moms that helped me. Some of the moms helped out in their younger child’s class, where they needed even more hands-on, I had a 4th grade class and needed less help. They were also really helpful for snack and bathroom breaks. They were not hidden, the parents sat in the back row of my class, and during the first part of CC when we were all together for assembly time, the parents usually sat with their kids. It was very family-friendly day. I hope that helped, feel free to ask anything else :)

  • Tammy June 22, 2012, 10:24 PM

    In researching CC, I found this blog. It was so helpful! Thank you for sharing your information and thoughts.

  • Nancy July 17, 2012, 11:21 AM

    Just ran across your blog. Your first year sounds a lot like mine. Last year was our first year in CC, and I tutored as well. I asked myself every week the night before class why I was doing this. When using CC Connected, I would click the drop down box to find the week I needed, and looked with dread at how many more weeks I was going to have to do this!!! That was in the beginning. After a short time, I got more comfortable with everything, and I started loving it and looking forward to it. I realized this was a God thing for me and my kids. They learned so much. We all did. It stretched us all in a wonderful way, and I was so blessed by the kids I tutored and the families we came to know in such a close way. i would not go back and change one thing.

  • Amy July 18, 2012, 9:46 PM

    Been really thinking about CC but I’m concerned with the time involved – we did homeschool for the first time last year. I have kids going into 6th & 7th and one starting kindergarten . Last year we did school from about 8:30 to 12:30 and was able to finish everything in a regular school year time frame – it looks like to me that with CC we would be going to the class on day a week but the rest of the week we would need to be doing work from about 8:30 – 3:30 sounds like long days for me with other things that have to be done as a mother. Can you tell me is it that time consuming the rest of the week?

  • Nicole Marron July 23, 2012, 8:56 AM

    Hi Jenn,
    Wondering after 2 1/2 years (nearly 3!)since this post – how is it going? Sounds like you have
    a wide variety of ages….I am probably going to tutor this fall in Foundations but my
    older two kids will not be participating in CC at all. Does CC frown on that?
    -Nicole

    • Nicole Marron July 23, 2012, 9:18 AM

      Hi Jenn,
      after reading the rest of the posts I see you are not in CC anymore.
      So much good feedback on your blog…..appreciated!

  • Zina Green January 9, 2013, 11:20 AM

    I am strongly considering taking my 6th and 8th graders out of public school and using the CC curriculum/community for their education. I would like to communicate with someone who has gone from public school to CC. I have a lot of questions and concerns. Thank you.

    • Jenn January 9, 2013, 9:57 PM

      Hi Zina,

      I only did CC for a year and my kids were younger so I am not the best to counsel you about this. If you go on over to the Well trained mind boards and ask, I think a few experienced moms will answer.

  • Rachel January 28, 2013, 10:32 PM

    I am SO THRILLED I ran into this post today of all days! I went to my.first CC day today with the local chapter to see if it would be a fit for us and I love the concept! I’m so glad to hear that in spite of the large amount of information, the kids are getting it…that was my one concern. it just seems like so.much. Thanks again!!

  • jami February 9, 2013, 12:23 PM

    this is so great! i’m in so cal and we’ve decided to start homeschooling our 4 kids next year. i just went to a CC open house and decided to join. i was so glad to find this review. thanks! can’t wait to get started.

  • Sheli Walters January 21, 2014, 7:40 PM

    Hey there – I wanted to save this to my Pinterest board. I don’t see a Pin button. How else might I do that?

    • Jenn January 24, 2014, 12:04 AM

      Sorry Sheli, I need to figure out how to put a “pin it” button in….until then, if you just copy the url of the post listed in the address bar of your browser and then go to pinterest and click the “add from website” button, you can add it there.

  • AmyLyn March 3, 2014, 7:52 PM

    We have used Sonlight for 3 years and really enjoy it but my very social competative 7 yr old needed something more. I stumbled across the CC info and we started by just using the flashcards on walks and the cds in the car. I was so impresses with what she was absorbing, the next fall we joined a CC community. (its 100 miles away so it does consume the full day with travel time.) I love the public speaking, social yet semi structured time, and the games where the answers are the homework! Not certian I agree with all the “facts” since I have found errors, but overall I enjoy. Would highly recommend NOT being a tudor your first year however. It is different than anything else I’ve seen and you need the chance to see and understand before leading.

  • Geralyn March 12, 2014, 3:56 PM

    wow! you have inspired me! Thank you for posting your experiences!!

  • Penny May 30, 2014, 10:08 PM

    Would you try to tutor with a 1 year old in tow?

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