Five Different Approaches: Classical Conversations

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Classical Conversations

Classical Conversations is a popular Christian co-op approach to classical education. Just like The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home and Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style, it’s based upon Dorothy Sayers’s Lost Tools of Learning.

My family has never participated in Classical Conversations. When it was first starting, the closest group was two hours away. I simply didn’t have the time or energy to make the trip every week with 4 small children.

Hubby and I found ways to classically homeschool our children at home. Then a couple of years ago a Classical Conversations group opened in my town. The news raced through an excited homeschool community!

We still chose to classically homeschool our children at home. Many, many members of the community were delighted to join Classical Conversations. Why?

Classical Conversation groups meet once a week allowing individual families 4 days a week to homeschool at home. The families augment and work through Classical Conversation studies as well as other subjects the family believes important.

This is no different from many co-ops. The difference though lies in how they apply classical education and the Trivium to their program.

Foundations (Grammar Stage): 4-11 years old

There are 3 cycles of memory work in Classical Conversation that work through historical events, world history, and American history. In addition, the 3 cycles work through science, art, music, English, Latin, math, Bible, and the timeline.

There is no need to begin with cycle one. The memory work does not depend upon a previous cycle to be memorized and studied. Families simply start with the cycle their co-op is studying.

Foundations isn’t just memory work. The kids also have science and art projects each week as well as short presentations.

Classical Conversations spends a lot of time laying a firm foundation of dates, facts, and events for the children’s later studies in the dialectic and rhetoric stages.

Essentials (Dialectic): 9-11 years old

Essentials is where 9- through 11-year-olds learn about language arts and drill arithmetic facts with their friends after the morning foundations study.

While memory work is still expected, the children are now asked to analyze and apply the facts they’ve learned. They learn grammar and writing, as well as drill math facts.

Discussion is a large part of this class. What and why are asked and answered. Children don’t simply regurgitate memorized answers. They analyze and critique.

classical conversationsChallenge (Rhetoric): 12-18 years old

In the challenge classes that make up the remaining years at the co-op, the teenagers are assigned a tutor. The tutor guides the kids from memorized facts to analytical and critical thinking, and on to rhetorical skills.

They study math, Latin, science, literature, theology, economics, history, philosophy, logic, and drama. Challenging projects are done as a group.

When all is said and done, the young adults leave Classical Conversations with an excellent classical education, ready for the challenges that lie before them.

Classical Conversations guides families through the Trivium. It enables them to make friends and do group projects. In short, it gives families a community that supports and aids classical homeschooling.

For more information, check out these bloggers. Each blogger’s family has done Classical Conversations for several years and covers it in detail.

Read more of the 5 Approaches to Classical Education posting this week:

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  1. I am very interested in a Classical approach yet we live in Australia and I was wondering just how many people use this and how they adapt it to suit our different location.

    1. I don’t know how many people use the classical education model in Australia. I would think the biggest difference would be an emphasis on Australian history rather than US history. 🙂

    2. Hello Candice
      I have a 3 yo and live north west of Sydney. After learning and reading about classical education, I don’t think I can use any other model for my son but find that there is little assistance and community here in Sydney and not enough material in the various disciplines geared to Australia rather than USA. Have things changed for you since 2017?

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