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.
Challenge (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, to rhetorical skills.
They study math, Latin, science, literature, theology, economics, history, philosophy, logic, 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.
- Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood
- And Here We Go! Thinking about Classical Conversations?
- HomeGrown Learners
- Mt. Hope Chronicles: Classical Conversations ~ Our 3rd Year Update
- Keeping Up With the Moys
Read more of the 5 Approaches to Classical Education posting this week: